Dec 262020
 


Salvador Dali Christmas Tree 1959

 

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)
UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)
Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)
Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)
Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)
Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)
Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)
Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)
Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)
Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)
Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

“Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.”

Pfizer’s Vaccine Maximizes Profit, Not The Greater Good (Quelch)

Pfizer just inked a second deal with the federal government to supply an additional 100 million doses of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021. This is on top of Pfizer’s earlier deal for 100 million doses, currently being shipped. At around $20 per dose, Pfizer shareholders will do nicely, and the Pfizer CEO cashed in $5.6 million in stock at the time of the FDA’s emergency use authorization. Pfizer deserves enormous credit for the speed with which its vaccine secured the Food and Drug Administration’s approval. But Pfizer’s vaccine strategy was designed from the outset to maximize shareholder profit, not the greater good. Pfizer set out to be first across the finish line and reap a public relations bonanza. That’s why it pursued an mRNA vaccine, which can be developed and manufactured much faster than traditional vaccines.

But Pfizer’s vaccine has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius to retain its efficacy. Developing countries do not have and cannot afford such a cold chain. That means Pfizer is off the hook to provide low- or no-cost doses to billions of people in poorer nations. The Moderna vaccine, also an mRNA vaccine, was designed to require normal vaccine refrigeration at around minus 20 degrees Celsius . Note, also, that Pfizer declined U.S. government subsidies to fund its vaccine development. This preserved Pfizer’s negotiating independence, avoided bureaucratic delays and helped Pfizer get to the finish line first. Taking no subsidies enabled Pfizer to deflect any government pressure to make its vaccine available at lower cost.

There’s another problem. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses with 21- and 28-day intervals, respectively, between vaccinations. Typically, this will result in 50 percent slippage; half those who receive the first shot will not return for the second. Some will forget, others will experience side effects, and others will believe wrongly that one jab is good enough. Meanwhile, Britain’s AstraZeneca has developed an equally effective COVID-19 vaccine that requires normal refrigeration and can therefore use existing vaccine supply chains that extend to rural areas. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being sold at $2 per dose versus $20 per dose (that is, $40 per person) for Pfizer’s. AstraZeneca has pledged not to profit from COVID-19 vaccine sales and to waive patent protections. Pfizer has done neither.

Pfizer’s strategy is simple. Be first to market and make a boatload of money by “skimming the cream,” supplying vaccines to those willing to pay. Pfizer has cut deals at high prices with about 20 developed countries. Their government agencies can’t reject the Pfizer vaccine as too expensive because they can’t ask their frontline healthcare workers to wait for a cheaper alternative. They have to act now.

Read more …

“Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory.”

UK Scientists Trial Drug To Prevent Infection That Leads To Covid (G.)

British scientists are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop the disease Covid-19, which experts say could save many lives. The antibody therapy would confer instant immunity against the disease and could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and care home residents to help contain outbreaks. People living in households where someone has caught Covid could be injected with the drug to ensure they do not become infected too. It could also be given to university students, among whom the virus has spread rapidly because they live, study and socialise together.

Dr Catherine Houlihan, a virologist at University College London Hospitals NHS trust (UCLH) who is leading a study called Storm Chaser into the drug, said: “If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus.,” The drug has been developed by UCLH and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company that has also, along with Oxford University, created a vaccine that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is expected to approve for use in Britain next week. The team hope the trial shows that the cocktail of antibodies protects against Covid-19 for between six and 12 months. Trial participants are receiving it as two doses, one after the other.

If it is approved, it would be offered to someone who has been exposed to Covid in the previous eight days. It could be available as soon as March or April if it is approved by the medicines regulator after it has reviewed evidence from the study. The trial involves ULCH, several other British hospitals and a network of 100 sites globally. This month University College hospital became the first site in the world to recruit patients into the randomised control trial and give them the jab or a placebo. “To date we have injected 10 participants – staff, students and other people – who were exposed to the virus at home, in a healthcare setting or student halls,” said Houlihan. She and colleagues would closely follow the participants to see which of them develop Covid-19.

The immediate protection that the drug promises could play a vital role in reducing the impact of the virus until everyone has been immunised. The vaccination programme is under way using the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and is expected to take until next summer. NHS England accelerated the vaccine deployment this week after criticism from hospital bosses, GP leaders and the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt that it was taking too long. “The advantage of this medicine is that it gives you immediate antibodies,” Houlihan said. “We could say to trial participants who have been exposed: yes, you can have the vaccine. But we wouldn’t be telling them that would protect them from the disease, because it’s too late by then [because the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines do not confer full immunity for around a month].”

[..] The drug involves a long-acting antibody combination known as AZD7442, which has been developed by AstraZeneca. Rather than antibodies produced by the body to help fight an infection, AZD7442 uses monoclonal antibodies, which have been created in a laboratory. In documents on a clinical trial that AstraZeneca has registered in the US, it explains that it is investigating “the efficacy of AZD7442 for the post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19 in adults. The Sars-CoV-2 spike protein contains the virus’s RBD [receptor-binding domain], which enables the virus to bind to receptors on human cells. By targeting this region of the virus’s spike protein, antibodies can block the virus’s attachment to human cells, and therefore is expected to block infection.”

Read more …

“Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested.”

Rolling Out the Vaccine (Dorman)

The vaccines approved by the FDA, along with those approved by other countries like China and Russia, have gone through the fastest possible testing. Tens of thousands of individuals have been placed in control and treatment groups in order to determine two things: to what extent do the vaccines reduce the likelihood of getting infected (efficiency) and how common and severe are the side effects (safety)? Meeting both criteria is sufficient for approval, which is how it should be. But there is another crucial question, to what extent do the vaccines reduce transmission of the virus to others?

The answer does not affect whether these vaccines should be employed, but they do have large consequences for other policies during this phase of the pandemic, such as rules for separation and masking, restrictions on activities and events, resumption of in-person schooling, and how much should be spent on interventions like ventilation overhauls. To the extent that vaccination reduces transmission, other restrictions and investments can be modified as the vaccinated portion of the population increases. Unfortunately, our knowledge of this issue is minimal. We don’t have any published lab results at all, and we are at least months away from meaningful epidemiological data.

A rollout that prioritizes crucial learning could change this. Some substantial portion of the early vaccines could be reserved for community trials. A number of communities could be given treatments in which a designated proportion of the population is vaccinated as soon as possible; this portion could be varied (30%, 50%, 70%) so that a variety of treatments could be tested. Others matched to them by relevant demographic, economic and other variables would be controls and would not receive any vaccines during the trial period. (Note that the lack of blinding at the community level should not be a serious problem as long as unvaccinated individuals in treatment communities are given a convincing placebo.) Everyone living in these communities would be tested regularly. We could then observe differences between community infection rates corresponding to treatment and infer transmission probabilities under real world conditions. It might also be possible to learn how transmission varies across the different viral strains that have emerged. The entire operation could be accomplished within the space of a month or less.

Read more …

You have allergies? Stay away.

Pfizer COVID19 Vaccine Causing More Allergic Reactions Than Expected (NYP)

The chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed said the frequency of allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is higher than what would be expected for other jabs, according to a report.Dr. Moncef Slaoui said the last time he was updated on allergic reactions was Tuesday, when there were six cases, and added that the data on COVID-19 immunizations is lagging behind the actual numbers, CNN reported. “That frequency, as it stood yesterday, is superior to what one would expect with other vaccines,” he said. Slaoui said discussions are underway between the vaccine makers and the National Institutes of Health to consider holding clinical trials of vaccines in very allergic populations, such as people who always have to carry anti-allergy medication in an EpiPen.

Read more …

January will be bleak.

Millions Wake Up To Tougher Restrictions As UK Covid Deaths Pass 70,000 (PA)

Millions more people will be waking to harsher coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day when new tier changes come into force in England. New lockdowns are set to be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while restrictions that were eased for Christmas Day in Wales will be reimposed on Saturday. Those in the strict tier 4 in England will increase by 6 million to 24 million people, representing 43% of the population, in response to a more transmissible variant being discovered in the UK. It comes after the government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, taking the UK’s total deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 70,195. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 86,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.


There were also 32,725 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing to 244,146 the number of positive tests in the past seven days. The new measures were being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the UK which was announced last week. Areas moving into tier 4 are Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest. Tier-4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors and the forced closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.

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“In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over.”

Pelosi, Democrats, UniParty and Media Spin Narrative Around COVID Relief (CTH)

There has been a great deal of political narrative engineering/fabrication surrounding President Trump’s admonitions to congress about a pork-filled COVID relief package. With a budgetary “shut-down” date looming on Monday, let’s look at the issues. First, there’s no such thing as a federal government “shut-down”; the only thing that happens if with a budgetary date exceeded is “non essential” government employees told to stay home (reference the prior “sequestration” nonsense). Second, the jaw-droppingly tone-deaf and pork-filled scheme of spending within the $900 billion COVID relief package is disconnected from the Omnibus spending bill ($1.5 trillion) that was combined into a single legislative construct for convenience only.

The Omnibus bill (non budget spending/allocation) and the COVID bill can be separated, because they are technically separate bills. President Trump wants congress to re-write the $900 billion COVID bill to provide $2,000 per person instead of $600 per person. In essence Trump is asking for a stand alone COVID relief bill for $2k/person, then drop the $600/person payment out of the pork-laden COVID relief bill and start that economic relief bill over. This is not a hard issue to resolve. The only reason UniParty congress is fighting Trump is because their lobbyist and foreign government bribes are part of the $900 billion and will not pass the scrutiny of public opinion if standing alone.

To try and conflate the issues Pelosi changed on part of the pork-laden COVID bill to $2k/person, without removing all the pork. The GOP voted against that scheme and the media are now claiming that loggerhead derails the omnibus part of the spending “package”. Again, Omnibus is separate from COVID relief. The obtuse arguments are conflated and false. The Omnibus spending bill can be sent to POTUS without the COVID part included. The reason why McConnell and Pelosi want to keep them attached is because the combination makes a 5,500 page mess that hides the pork.

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“Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks?”

Our Upside-Down Postelection World (Hanson)

After Nov. 3, the meaning of some words and concepts abruptly changed. Have you noticed how new realities have replaced old ones? Media cross-examination of the president is now an out-of-date idea. The time for gotcha questions has come and gone. Why ask a president whether he is a traitor or a crook when you can focus on his favorite flavor of milkshake or compliment him on his socks? The old pre-election truth was that new vaccines take years to develop. The new postelection truth is that it’s no big deal to bring out new vaccines in nine months. Impeaching a first-term president after his first midterm election — on a strictly partisan vote, for political reasons other than the Constitution’s “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — is now a terrible idea.

Worse would be to appoint a special counsel to harass a president on unfounded charges of collusion with China. An even scarier notion would be a conservative dream team of partisan lawyers hounding President Joe Biden — using a 22-month, $40 million blank check. It would be unprofessional for university psychologists and physicians from a distance to diagnose, in pop fashion, the mental faculties of a President Biden. Certainly, there would never be talk about Department of Justice officials contemplating wearing a wire as part of an entrapment scheme to remove a President Biden through the 25th Amendment. That would almost constitute a coup attempt. Almost as bad would be for the holdover FBI director to start “memorializing” his private conversations with Joe Biden on FBI devices. He might then leak such memos to the press — just in case he were to be fired for secretly investigating Biden for “Chinese collusion” and then lying about such a probe.

What happened to the Logan Act? Not long ago it was assumed to be a critically needed guardrail. Wouldn’t it now ensure that presidential transition team members were not calling foreign leaders while Donald Trump is still president? How has it suddenly become a defunct, ossified relic? Leaking classified material would be about the worst thing government officials could do. Imagine if a Trump holdover, burrowed into the new Biden administration, released a transcript of Biden’s private conversations with the Mexican president or the Australian prime minister. Such a breach of trust would be almost as bad as a turncoat anti-Biden mole seeking to resist presidential directives. Imagine if this anonymous staffer were given an op-ed in the New York Tines to claim that a cadre of old-time Democrats were shocked by Biden’s cognitive decline and resisting his directives.

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$100 million for a Senate seat. Inflation much?

Georgia Democrats Shatter Fundraising Records (DC)

Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock have each raised over $100 million in the past two months, shattering Senate fundraising records and out-raising their respective challengers, Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Their $210 million total was split almost evenly, with Ossoff reporting $106.8 million and Warnock reporting $103.4 million, two totals funded largely by small-dollar donors across the country, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Though outraised, Perdue and Loeffler raised over $130 million in total, reporting $68 and $64.1 million, respectively. All four totals broke the previous Senate fundraising record set by South Carolina challenger Jaime Harrison in the third quarter of 2020 when he reported raising $57 million in his bid against South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.


Ossoff and Warnock have spent $67 and $53 million on television advertisements since the November election, compared to $34 million and $36 million for Perdue and Loeffler. But while the two Democrats have outspent both incumbents, outside GOP groups have erased much of their financial edge, Politico reported. Georgia’s two Senate runoffs have become almost completely nationalized given their stakes. If Democrats flip both seats then they would have 50 seats, just enough for a majority with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote. If Republicans, however, can defend both seats, then they would have a 52-48 Senate majority, which would prevent Democratic control of Congress and the White House and likely block much of President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda once he takes office in January.

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1,246 pages.

Full Brexit Trade Deal ‘Goes Beyond Canada-style Accord’ (G.)

The post-Brexit trade deal agreed by the UK and the European Union goes beyond the bloc’s so-called “Canada-style” trade accord, the BBC has reported, citing a full copy of the agreement. The 1,246-page document, which includes about 800 pages of annexes and footnotes, includes a late compromise on electric cars, the corporation said. The EU had sought to offer tariff-free access only to those British vehicles that are made mostly with European parts. This measure will now be phased in over six years but is less generous than the UK requested. The BBC also reported there is a commitment not to lower standards on the environment, workers’ rights and climate change with mechanisms to enforce it.

However there is also a mutual right to “rebalance” the agreement if there are “significant divergences” in future that are capable of “impacting trade”. The dispensations go beyond standard free-trade agreements such as those between the EU and Canada or Japan, reflecting the UK’s history in the single market which was established in 1993. Johnson had described the agreement, which was reached on Christmas Eve, as a “jumbo” free trade deal along the lines of that between the EU and Canada and urged Britain to move on from the divisions caused by the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The BBC reported that restrictions compensation for unfair subsidies to companies “do not apply” in situations such as natural disasters which will exempt the EU’s large current pandemic support package for aviation, aerospace, climate change and electric cars. Parliament will debate and vote on the deal on Wednesday, a day before the transition period lapses. Downing Street has thus far published only a short summary of the agreement that sets out the shape of the future relationship between the EU and Brussels.

Read more …

Make it stop!

Boeing 737 Max Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure (ZH)

Last month, commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed after a 20-month worldwide grounding, following two deadly accidents. Now we’re finding out, weeks later, after the Max was cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return to the skies safely, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 Max suffered engine issues during flight. According to Aviation24.be, an Air Canada Boeing 737-8 MAX (registered C-FSNQ) was on a test flight after storage from Marana Pinal, Arizona, to Montreal, Canada, when the incident occurred. Luckily, the aircraft had no passengers and only three crew members.


Engine issues shortly developed after the plane took off. The crew noticed the “left engine had low hydraulic pressure,” said Aviation24.be. Then more complications developed with the aircraft: “The crew and airline dispatch/engineering controllers initially decided to continue to Montreal but the crew received an indication of a fuel imbalance from the left-hand wing and shut the left hand engine down,” said the aviation website. The crew was forced to declare a “PAN-PAN” emergency, meaning the plane was in severe jeopardy and had to divert from its pre-planned flight route and land in Tucson. The incident took place on Dec. 22, according to Aviation24.be.

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“In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.”

Christmas Awokenings (Jim Kunstler)

And so, on Christmas morning, having suffered the night visitations of vexing spirits — or was that just the strange interaction of Zyprexa and Zolpidem — Joe Biden woke up (in a manner of speaking) to find himself transformed. He was no longer dogged by the prospect of being president of the US, but, rather, was convinced he had become the provincial plenipotentiary of a Chinese overseas possession known as Golden Wok West, where CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping can order up any asset for take-out. What a relief, Joe thought, as they brought in his morning meds. Here, now, was a one-horse pony of a different color, Joe mused, chugging down his 5mg of Haldol.

Ol’ Joe went to bed on the blessed silent night fretting that soon he’d have to answer to all those caterwauling losers about to be tossed from their McHouses and apartments after nearly a year of nonpayment. But no, the shabby dwellings would now just become the property of the People’s Liberation Army, as that very fine organization prepared to sort things out in the flea market once known as America.

Was there anything left of value? Wasn’t that a puzzlement? The former so-called Yang-kees had squandered all their laid-up treasure turning their continent into a demolition derby — six-laners lined by muffler shops, chain stores, and fried food shacks — and when all their financial resources were used up, they’d borrowed so much more money that all the certified public accountants who ever lived could not keep up with the compounded interest calculations if they worked double-shifts until the end of time. In short, the self-demolition of America was fait accompli.

Now, all that was left for Joe Biden to do was to sign some paperwork and, maybe three times a week, emerge from his basement to smile and explain to eager members of the inquisitive news media why he preferred General Tso’s Chicken over Hunan Beef. At least that’s how things seemed to shake out in Joe Biden’s brain on Christmas morning as Dr. Jill helped him to the bathroom….

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 022020
 


Fred Stein Brute man 1946

 

President Trump Says He And First Lady Have COVID19 (JTN)
What Happens If President Trump Contracts COVID19 (Hudak)
Trump Job Approval Rises To Highest Since May, Majority Expect Him To Win (HA)
Navalny ‘Is Working With CIA’: Kremlin (RT)
Comey’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure (Turley)
Since 1976, WaPo Has Panicked At Thought Of The GOP Winning White House (DC)
It Is Time To Dismiss The Flynn Case (Turely)
FAA Chief Test Flies 737 MAX; Says More Fixes Needed (CNN)
How Does International Capital Flow? (BIS)
Small Firm Bust Accelerates As Bankruptcies Soar In September (ZH)
Shooting Unarmed Civilians In Iraq Would Still Be A Secret But For Assange (ES)
We Must Avoid Being Diverted Towards Terminal Cynicism (Cook)
The America I Loved Has Gone Forever (Feierstein)

 

 

Melania

 

 

 

 

Let’s see how gracious the reactions are.

President Trump Says He And First Lady Have COVID19 (JTN)

President Trump said early Friday morning that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement that Trump, 74, and his wife have the virus and will quarantine comes in the homestretch of the presidential race, throwing uncertainty into Trump’s reelection effort against Democratic challenger Joe Biden with just 33 days remaining before the Nov. 3 election. It also followed news reports late Thursday that White House adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive – immediately raising concerns about whether the president had been exposed. Trump made the announcement on Twitter at 12:54 a.m. ET.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he posted. “We will get through this TOGETHER!” The White House just after midnight Friday issued a revised scheduled in which Trump’s planned trip to Florida later in the day was no longer on the agenda. However, the full impact of Trump testing positive and having to quarantine during his reelection effort remains unclear. The president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, issued an official statement late Thursday, saying the president and his wife had tested positive for the SARS-CoV- 2 virus and were “both well at this time.”

He also said he expected the president to “continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.” Trump on Thursday evening before reports about Hick and him testing positive did a live phone interview on Fox News’ “Hannity” show in which he gave no indication of being sick. Despite have the best medical care possible, the president having the virus is a serious health issue considering that eight out of every 10 virus-related deaths in the U.S. are among those 65 and older.

Read more …

From July 2020. There are entire sets of protocols set into motion. Things will be pretty calm as long as Trump is not hospitalized.

What Happens If President Trump Contracts COVID19 (Hudak)

A positive COVID-19 test for the president, in itself, is not a cause for emergency action. Millions of people around the world have contracted the disease and have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The president would likely be able to continue his everyday activities and manage the office either undisturbed or with mild challenges. A presidential diagnosis would create some challenges for those around him. The need for 24-hour Secret Service protection could put agents at risk for contracting it. But given modern technology, the president could quarantine and have remote or sufficiently distanced contact from most, if not all, aides, including the individual(s) who would be involved in the presidential daily brief.

There would need to be other precautions taken, even if the president were to be asymptomatic. First, those in the line of succession would need to be protected. It would be important to keep Vice President Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Grassley (President Pro Tempore), and members of the cabinet isolated from the president. It would be especially important to ensure that the vice president have limited contact with individuals generally to reduce his chances of contracting the virus as well. Second, it would be important for the president to continue to communicate with the American public, especially if he is mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. Seeing the president on camera can restore faith in his wellness, calm nervous Americans, stabilize stock markets (that would surely see a dip in the event of a positive test), and project to the world that the president remains well enough to execute the office.

We’ve experienced something like this before. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a serious stroke, and his wife kept even his closest advisers from seeing the president, likely out of fear that they would find him incapacitated and thus throwing the nation into a serious leadership crisis. Such a scenario (hiding the president’s condition) would not be possible today, but an extended absence of a president—especially during a pandemic—would raise serious questions and become a destabilizing force in politics, the economy, and the public.

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“..this question — whom do you think is *likely* to win? — has correctly predicted the popular-vote winner in every election back to 1996.”

Trump Job Approval Rises To Highest Since May, Majority Expect Him To Win (HA)

His approval rating today: 46 percent. Barack Obama’s approval rating eight years ago today: 47 percent. Trump’s not licked yet. There are two differences between them, though. One is that Trump’s disapproval rating stands at 52 percent. Obama’s was 46 percent. Flipping someone who’s undecided into your column is a lot easier than flipping someone who disapproves of you, which is the task facing Trump with that crucial three or four percent that he still needs. The other difference is that O’s job approval soon rose above 50 and he ended up spending nearly all of that month at or above 49 percent. Trump has touched 49 just a few times since 2017 in Gallup’s polling, typically landing between 41-46 percent. He’s never reached 50. And on every major issue with the notable exception of the economy, disapproval of him is north of 50.

A look at the RCP average shows that Gallup’s numbers are no fluke, which seems incongruous. The state and national polling against Biden has been grim this week for Trump and yet his approval rating remains a decent 45.5 percent. How can his chances of winning the election be slipping if his job approval isn’t? Part of the answer lies in the last paragraph: Pretty much everyone who’s not pro-Trump is anti-Trump, not undecided, and the latter group is bigger than the former. But there’s also a fascinating discrepancy between his job approval and his head-to-head polling against Biden that’s shown up in a number of surveys. Namely, there’s some small but meaningful number of voters who say they approve of his performance — but are voting for the Democrat anyway. Compare the last six months of Trump’s job approval, where he enjoyed a rating of 45-46 both before and after this year’s summer swoon…

Here’s another interesting number from the same Gallup poll that’s out today:

You can read that various ways. Maybe it’s nothing more than the residue of Trump’s shocking 2016 win at work. The polls predicted Hillary would win last time, Hillary didn’t win, so there’s no reason to trust the polls this time. Another way to read it is as a sign of a secret preference for Trump. If you’re all-in on the “shy Trump voter” theory of why his polling is poor against Biden, here’s your evidence that some independents and maybe even some Democrats are secretly planning to vote for him. They won’t tell a pollster straight out that they prefer him to Biden, but ask them who they think will win and their hidden preference creeps into that answer. It should be noted that this question — whom do you think is *likely* to win? — has correctly predicted the popular-vote winner in every election back to 1996. In 2000 and 2016, more Americans thought Gore and Clinton would win, and they did indeed get the most votes that fall. The wrinkle, though, is that the streak is all but certain to end next month: While Trump stands a fair chance of winning the electoral college, no one apart from the most diehard members of the MAGA base expects him to win the popular vote. Even his campaign doesn’t pretend that he has a serious shot at it …

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The western media attention has to come from somewhere.

Navalny ‘Is Working With CIA’: Kremlin (RT)

Western intelligence agencies – in particular, agents from the American CIA – are working with Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman alleged on Thursday. “Probably, it is not the patient [Navalny] who works for the Western special services, but that the Western intelligence services who work with him – this would be more correct [to say],” Dmitry Peskov explained. “I can even be specific: these days, specialists from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America are working with him.” “This isn’t the first time he’s been given different instructions,” the spokesman continued. “The instructions given to the patient are obvious. We have seen such patterns of behavior on more than one occasion.”

The bombshell allegation comes just hours after Navalny claimed Putin was behind his alleged poisoning in August. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that he had “no other explanation for what happened.” Peskov took umbrage at the activist’s comments alleging Putin’s involvement in the incident, dismissing them as “baseless” and “insulting.” He told reporters “we believe that such accusations against the Russian president are absolutely unfounded and unacceptable.” German officials alleged, last month, that Navalny had been targeted with a nerve agent from the ‘Novichok’ family. “We want to investigate the case of the Berlin patient [Navalny] and establish the cause of what happened,” Peskov explained, expressing doubt about the veracity of the German analysis. “For this, we need to get information from those who found traces of poisoning.”

The Kremlin has previously complained that Berlin has been uncooperative in providing evidence that the Moscow protest leader had indeed been attacked with Novichok. Peskov also commented on Navalny’s intention to return to Russia, as expressed to Der Spiegel, observing that he saw no heroism in his declaration. “Any citizen of Russia can return to his homeland at any time,” the spokesman outlined. “Treatment can take place in our country, in fact, almost all people avail of this. Lives are saved in our country, and the life of this patient was also saved in Russia.” This refers to when Navalny had initially been hospitalized in Siberia

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Casual?! Interesting choice of words.

Comey’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure (Turley)

In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony proved as casual as his appearance in an open shirt from his home office. Comey was hammered with embarrassing findings of errors under his watch in the handling of the Russian investigation, including the reliance on information that FBI agents warned might be Russian disinformation supplied by a Russian agent. After years of investigation, the FBI was unable to show that a single Trump official conspired or colluded with the Russians. Instead, investigations found extensive errors, irregular and criminal conduct, and statements of intense bias by key FBI figures. Yet, Comey proceeded to give what amounted to a series of shrugs in either denying any recollection of such information or deflecting responsibility to others.

Comey was asked about an intelligence report suggesting that Hillary Clinton personally approved an effort “to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.” The report was reportedly sufficiently serious to be included in a briefing of President Barack Obama. However, when asked about his knowledge, Comey again shrugged and said it “didn’t ring a bell.” That’s it. The fact is that the allegation against Clinton (like the one against Trump that launched the Russian investigation) was unverified and could be legitimately questioned. There is a fair question on why the FBI went all in on one allegation and not the other. When asked “did you have a duty to look at any allegations regarding Clinton in Russia?” Comey simply replied “I don’t know what you mean.”

Yet, the more interesting question is what exactly does “ring the bell” of James Comey. Recent disclosures have added to the very serious allegations of misconduct in the handling of the Russian investigation. Highly critical reports by the Inspector General and the secret FISA court detailed critical omissions and outright false information used as the basis for the investigation. This includes conduct leading to the firing of the top FBI officials and agents involved in the investigation and a recent criminal plea by the key FBI agent in charge of the FISA applications. Comey however seemed locked in some Kübler-Ross loop, stuck between denial and transference.

[..] Comey also made a series of false statements. He repeated, for example, the long-standing denial that there was any surveillance of the Trump campaign. New information shows that the FBI used a briefing in August 2016 of then candidate Trump to gather information for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia investigation. While Comey is still denying this fact, other Democrats have already moved on from the denial of any surveillance of the campaign. After the disclosure, Rep. Eric Swalwell declared that “they were right to do it.”

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The party’s paper.

Since 1976, WaPo Has Panicked At Thought Of The GOP Winning White House (DC)

On September 28, The Washington Post officially endorsed Joe Biden for president. That may not come as a shock to anyone with a passing knowledge of the liberal newspaper, but the Post paints this year as unique and different. The unsigned editorial calls Trump the “worst president of modern times” and warns readers that “democracy is at stake.” An anyone-but-Trump anti-endorsement on August 21 lectured that “a second Trump term might injure the democratic experiment beyond recovery.” Get it? You must vote for Biden because democracy itself is in danger. However, for the Washington Post, this year’s endorsement is exactly like every other. I tracked down and reviewed every Washington Post presidential endorsement since the paper began regularly picking candidates in 1976.

Here’s the box score: 11 endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates. 0 endorsements of Republican presidential candidates. 1 non-endorsement (in 1988). The Democrats have exciting, “supple” (Barack Obama in 2008) candidates who inspire hope. In contrast, Republicans are reckless (John McCain in 2008) and bad on race (George H.W. Bush in 1992), to name a few of the paper’s concerns. While some Post endorsements were more enthusiastic than others, the conclusion is always the same: America MUST elect a Democrat president. Sometimes, the Post will tell its readers not to be cynical. This isn’t a choice between the lesser of two evils, they say.

The paper’s 2020 endorsement of Biden cheers: “Fortunately, to oust President Trump in 2020, voters do not have to lower their standards. The Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, is exceptionally well-qualified, by character and experience, to meet the daunting challenges that the nation will face over the coming four years.” If that sounds familiar, it should. Turns out, Democrats had a great candidate in Hillary Clinton in 2016: “In the gloom and ugliness of this political season, one encouraging truth is often overlooked: There is a well-qualified, well-prepared candidate on the ballot. Hillary Clinton has the potential to be an excellent president of the United States, and we endorse her without hesitation.”

That language echoed through the decades. In 1984, the Post tried to dissuade Americans from reelecting Ronald Reagan, “enthusiastically and without apology” endorsing Walter Mondale: “He is a decent man and a diligent, hard-working one who has been a good Democratic leader…. We say this is a serious, steady, bright, decent, qualified man who wants to be president and who should be.” 49 out of 50 states rejected the paper’s advice, reelecting Reagan in a landslide.

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“I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.”

It Is Time To Dismiss The Flynn Case (Turely)

When Michael Flynn heads to court for his final sentencing hearing today, a lifetime of respected national service will hang in the balance on what is said and done. I am not talking about Flynn but of Judge Emmet Sullivan. There is no issue over the dismissal of the charge of Flynn lying to federal investigators. The only issue is whether, just before an election, Sullivan will use the hearing as a forum for injudicious commentary. I have practiced law for years before Sullivan and praised him for his demeanor and record as a judge. He has served with distinction since 1994 in cases ranging from Guantanamo Bay detainees to the flawed prosecution of Ted Stevens to the emails of Hillary Clinton. Then came the case of Flynn, who was charged with a single count of lying to federal investigators.

Such a charge ordinarily would result in a short sentencing hearing. Flynn fought the charge but, after exhausting his assets and facing threats by prosecutors to target his son, he agreed to plead to one count. Even the uncooperative witness like Alex Van Der Zwaan received only 30 days in prison on a similar charge related to the investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller. Yet this is the third attempt at sentencing for Flynn, as what should have been the simple hearing two years ago was derailed by Sullivan himself. Both Flynn and the prosecutors believed they would have a perfunctory hearing and a likely sentence without jail time. After all, this was just one count, and Flynn pleaded guilty, then met with Mueller about 20 times as a cooperative witness. Furthermore, we know federal investigators at the time did not believe Flynn intentionally lied to them. Yet when Flynn went to court, he was given a scolding rather than a sentence.

Using the flag in court as a prop, Sullivan falsely accused Flynn of being an “unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser” who sold his country out. Sullivan even suggested Flynn should have been charged with treason, then suggested he might ignore any recommendations and send Flynn to jail when he declared, “I cannot assure you that if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration. I am not hiding my disgust and my disdain.” Sullivan apologized for some of his comments, but the hearing led to a critical delay. During that time, new evidence emerged that cast further doubt on the investigation of Flynn, including the material showing that FBI agents wanted to close the case in 2016 due to lack of evidence. The investigation was kept open at the insistence of fired FBI special agent Peter Strzok, who showed intense animus for President Trump.

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Translation: the FAA always gave in to anything Boeing said. But now it’s their own reputations on the line.

FAA Chief Test Flies 737 MAX; Says More Fixes Needed (CNN)

Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson says he has some suggestions for new changes to the Boeing 737 MAX after piloting the grounded jetliner Wednesday. “I like what I saw on the flight,” said Dickson, a former airline pilot who flew earlier versions of the 737. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items going forward,” said Dickson after his two-hour flight from Seattle’s Boeing Field. Dickson said he’d like to see tweaks “not so much in the procedures, but in the narrative that describes the procedures.” Federal regulators are still evaluating Boeing’s proposed safety changes to the embattled design after a pair of fatal crashes abroad killed 346 people, grounding the plane worldwide in March 2019.


Dickson stressed his unorthodox flight was not part of the official FAA recertification process — which Dickson said is in the home stretch. The 18-month grounding has cost Boeing at least $18 billion. And it has missed a series of target dates for getting approval for the plane to again carry passengers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic it had been expecting approval for the plane by the middle of this year. But the pandemic, and the resulting plunge in air travel worldwide, has led virtually all airlines to park a large percentage of their planes, reducing the need for Boeing (BA) to win the approval for the plane to fly sooner than later.

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“Modelling #GrossCapitalFlows sheds new light on classic debates, including that #CurrentAccounts are poor vulnerability indicators and that global imbalances are likely driven by a credit glut rather than a #SavingsGlut”

How Does International Capital Flow? (BIS)

Understanding gross capital flows is increasingly viewed as crucial for both macroeconomic and financial stability policies, but theory is lagging behind many key policy debates. We fill this gap by developing a two-country DSGE model that tracks domestic and cross-border gross positions between banks and households, with explicit settlement of all transactions through banks. We formalise the conceptual distinction between cross-border saving and financing, which often move in opposite directions in response to shocks. This matters for at least four policy debates.


First, current accounts are poor indicators of financial vulnerability, because in a crisis, creditors stop financing debt rather than current accounts, and because following a crisis, current accounts are not the primary channel through which balance sheets adjust. Second, we reinterpret the global saving glut hypothesis by arguing that US households do not finance current account deficits with foreigners’ physical saving, but with digital purchasing power, created by banks that are more likely to be domestic than foreign. Third, Triffin’s current account dilemma is not in fact a dilemma, because the creation of additional US dollars requires dollar credit creation by US and non-US banks rather than US current account deficits. Finally, we demonstrate that the observed high correlation of gross capital inflows and outflows is overwhelmingly an automatic consequence of double entry bookkeeping, rather than the result of two separate sets of economic decisions.

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The damage is real.

Small Firm Bust Accelerates As Bankruptcies Soar In September (ZH)

Policies promoted by the White House and the Federal Reserve to support small firms have been widely insufficient as bankruptcy filings are back to levels not seen since the dark days of the virus pandemic, according to Bloomberg, citing a new report via bankruptcy court data firm Epiq AACER. At least 620 companies filed for Chapter 11 protection in the first 25 days of September, a 48% increase over the same period last year. Bankruptcy filings in June and July saw 609 and 644, respectively. Chris Kruse, senior vice president at Epiq, said, “we’re seeing a continued strong flow of Chapter 11 filings in September, consistent with what we saw in June and July,” adding that “they range from businesses with small footprints to high street retailers.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has admitted the Fed’s lending program for smaller businesses has been challenging. “Trying to underwrite the credit of hundreds of thousands of very small businesses would be very difficult,” Powell said. As a result, most of the Fed’s liquidity flowed to mega-corporations while smaller ones were shut out, leaving them widely exposed to bankruptcy as a fiscal cliff, which started on July 31, has ravaged small firms and households for the last two months. With Republicans and Democrats still far apart on agreeing on the next round of economic stimulus, downward pressure on small firms and households will continue. The failure to pass the next stimulus bill, in a timely fashion, could result in a double-dip recession.


Deirdre O’Connor, managing director of corporate restructuring at Epiq, said, “we will continue to see filings for companies that had been the most disrupted by Covid and are operating in a zero revenue environment.” Data compiled by Bloomberg shows 193 bankruptcy filings year-to-date of companies with more than $50 million in liabilities were recorded for the first nine months of the year. If filings continue to accelerate into fall/winter, then this year could rival the 271 high, recorded in 2009. For more color on small firm health nationwide via high-frequency data, we turn to Opportunity Insights’ Economic Tracker of the percentage change in the number of small businesses open as of Sept. 13, suggesting nothing but disaster for mom and pop shops ahead of the fourth quarter.

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Judge in Julian #Assange case says she will give her judgment on 4 January 2021.

Shooting Unarmed Civilians In Iraq Would Still Be A Secret But For Assange (ES)

The shooting of unarmed civilians and journalists by US soldiers during the Iraq war would have remained a secret but for the work of Julian Assange, the Old Bailey heard today. Wikileaks published a classified video in 2010 which showed a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of people in Baghdad, as soldiers could be heard laughing and making derogatory remarks about the victims. Two Reuters journalists were among the dead, and the helicopter also fired on a vehicle which arrived at the scene to try to help the wounded victims. The US government refused to release the video – dubbed “collateral murder” – under Freedom of Information laws after its existence became known, and Wikileaks published it in a mass release of leaked cables and military documents relating to the Iraq and Afghan wars in 2010.

In a statement to Assange’s extradition hearing at the Old Bailey, Patrick Cockburn, the Independent’s Middle East correspondent and a veteran war reporter, said he had reported on the July 2007 incident but could not confirm that the victims were actually unarmed civilians. “I published a piece in The Independent about the killing of eleven people by a US helicopter in Baghdad two days earlier. The dead included two Iraqi journalists working for Reuters news agency but the US military claimed that their forces had come under fire, called for air support, and had killed two civilians and nine insurgents. “Police at a nearby Iraqi police station contradicted this, saying that the eleven had died during ‘a random American bombardment’.

A named Iraqi eyewitness confirmed what the police said, and also described how the US helicopter had fired on an Iraqi vehicle that had come to help the wounded. “The evidence was compelling, but in the face of official denials of wrongdoing by the US military authorities it was impossible to prove that all those who died were unarmed civilians. “It was known that a film of the killing had been taken by the gun camera of the US Apache helicopter, but the Pentagon refused to give this up even under a Freedom of Information Act request.” He said the release of the video and other information, passed from US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to Assange and Wikileaks, showed “the way the US was conducting its war on terror”. “But for that, the suspicions of journalists and the local police in Baghdad could never have been established”, he said.

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Jonathan Cook reacts to the OffGuardian, who say he should write differently.

We Must Avoid Being Diverted Towards Terminal Cynicism (Cook)

1. Let me start with a brief comment about Covid-19. I have nothing unique, informed or interesting to say about the virus I haven’t already said in earlier pieces on my blog. I don’t write the same thing over and over – at least not intentionally. Were I to write at the moment about the pandemic, all I would add are statements that I think are relatively obvious and have already been made in the “mainstream” media: • that most western governments have proved deeply incompetent or corrupt in handling the virus; • that, even during a pandemic, there must be a balance between public health needs and our need for a tangible sense of community, and daily I entertain doubts about where that balance should properly lie; • and that governments in trouble will try to exploit the pandemic as best they can to impose more repressive measures on their publics, exactly as is happening right now where I live, in Israel.

Attacks on our freedoms need to be identified and addressed as they occur. I don’t see a global conspiracy to lock us all into our homes. Those who do see such a conspiracy should be writing pieces to convince me and others that they are right, not whingeing that I have not written the piece for them.

2. The incompetence and corruption of our governments in handling Covid-19 are not specific to the virus. They are the symptoms of defective political systems that were long ago captured by corporate interests. Western, technocratic governments have no real solutions for the pandemic in exactly the same way that they have no real solutions for the collapse of eco-systems or for making our economic systems, based on endless growth on a finite planet, sustainable. The reason these challenges defeat them is because they have no values apart from ever greater concentration of wealth.

3. Even were I or others to narrowly focus on Covid-19, there are far more pressing things to talk about than the threat of masks and lockdowns. Such as how we have increased our exposure to new viruses like Covid through rampant colonisation and exploitation of the planet’s final wildernesses, depriving other species of their natural habitats. Such as how economic incentives in food production ensure we are deprived of proper nutrition and encouraged to stuff ourselves with empty calories, provoking an epidemic of obesity and chronic illness, that has weakened our natural defences to disease, especially a new one like Covid-19. I am less worried about lockdowns than I am about western lifestyles that make lockdowns our only way to prevent higher mortality rates.

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Planet Ponzi doesn’t like what he sees.

The America I Loved Has Gone Forever (Feierstein)

Since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, US politics have not only become highly toxic, they have also become radioactive. The swamp’s resist-everything Democratic Party, enabled by FBI bias and animus that was spun like a spider’s web by the feckless fake news media and echoed by Hollywood’s hypocritical perverts, made numerous attempts to stage a coup d’etat (carefully read the declassified letter below) of the democratically elected president. The CIA referred an investigation to the FBI that the Hillary Clinton campaign was colluding with Russia to impact the 2016 presidential election. The FBI lied to the FISA judges to spy on the Trump campaign, and no one was ever prosecuted.

Why have FISA judges Collyer, Mosman, Conway and Dearie, who signed off on those warrants, and were lied to by the FBI to illegally obtain those same warrants to spy on a political opposition party during a presidential election, done nothing? Why have these Judges remained silent? Is the entire system a stitch-up? Now, the narrative has shifted at warp speed. It’s no longer about Russian collusion. The new narratives that matter are virtue signalling, identity politics, critical race theory, record hypocrisy and a dual justice system where murder,looting and arson are justified because those on the right are all Nazis and the radicalized left’s enforcers, ANTIFAand BLM thugs, are only “peaceful protestors.”

And nothing will interfere with this narrative. For example, the BLM mob influenced the prosecutors by getting them to charge BLM supporter Larynzo Johnson with “wanton endangerment” when he ran up to two police officers and shot them while rioting. Why was this blatant assassination rampage not prosecuted as attempted murder? Is the BLM mob now dictating charging decisions? Johnson’s attempted murder of police officers has quickly disappeared as it interferes with the media mob’s narrative. The media have drummed these themes into the heads of the public and driven a wedge between family members, close friends and co-workers that has polarized America to the brink of civil war.

Life has become so bad in the USA that many of my several decades-old friendships recently ended when they became unable to respect any individual opinion that differed from their own. That has happened to me. Friends for decades have been consumed by Trump Derangement Syndrome and are cancelling me. For societies to evolve and flourish, we all need to accept other people’s viewpoints and continue open-minded, civil and respectful dialogue. In science, scientists always question everything; why shouldn’t we question everything in life without personalizing and demonizing those you disagree with? It’s become impossible to have rational fact-based discussions with these inflexible ideological zealots.

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Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.

 

 

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Jul 252020
 


Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Admin. On highway No. 1 of the ‘OK’ state, Muskogee County, Oklahoma. Seven children and eldest son’s family 1938

 

CDC: 35% of Non-Hospitalized COVID19 Patients Have Long-Term Illness (NBC)
Fauci: I Would Not Get On A Plane Or Eat Inside A Restaurant (MW)
Hunger, Lack of Vaccine Could Trigger New Migration Wave – Red Cross Chief (RT)
Supreme Court Rejects Church Challenge To Nevada COVID Restrictions (Solomon)
Judge Refuses Oregon Restraining Order Against Federal Law Enforcement (OPB)
Wave Of Evictions Could Be Coming For Nation’s Renters (Hill)
FAA Orders Emergency Inspections Of 2,000 Boeing 737s Post-Lockdown (USAT)
A Second Round Of $1,200 Stimulus Checks Could Be Coming (CNBC)
Recovery Fund Will Take EU Another Step Towards Disintegration (Varoufakis)
Media Should Be ‘Pressuring’ Biden To ‘Answer Questions’ – Howard Kurtz (Fox)
As US Debt Rises, Biden’s Spending Proposals Near $10 Trillion (JTN)
Charlamagne Tha God Slams Biden For Calling Trump First Racist President (NYP) /span>
WaPo Settles $250 Million Lawsuit With Covington Teen Nick Sandmann (ZH)
Meet the Steele Dossier’s ‘Primary Subsource’ (RCI)

 

 

Whaddaya know? New daily new case records for both the US and the world. The first million took three months, the latest million 5 days.

This will have to turn around at some point, and just maybe that won’t happen by itself any time soon.

4th day in a row with over 1,000 deaths in the US: same recipe. Turn it around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt: “There is zero bending of the Covid curve in India. Zero. Within a few months, the Covid crisis in India will dwarf anything happening in the rest of world.”

 

 

Stay away from COVID.

CDC: 35% of Non-Hospitalized COVID19 Patients Have Long-Term Illness (NBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Friday that a significant number of COVID-19 patients do not recover quickly, and instead experience ongoing symptoms, such as fatigue and cough. As many as a third of patients who were never sick enough to be hospitalized are not back to their usual health up to three weeks after their diagnosis, the report found. “COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness even among persons with milder outpatient illness, including young adults,” the report’s authors wrote. The acknowledgement is welcome news to patients who call themselves “long-haulers” — suffering from debilitating symptoms weeks and even months after their initial infection.

“This report is monumental for all of us who have been struggling with fear of the unknown, lack of recognition and many times, a lack of belief and proper care from medical professionals during our prolonged recovery from COVID-19,” Kate Porter, who is on day 129 of her recovery, wrote in an email to NBC News. Porter, 35, of Beverly, Massachusetts, has had low-grade fevers, fatigue, rapid heart beat, shortness of breath and memory and sleep issues since her diagnosis March 17. “This gives me hope that we will gain access to more resources throughout our recovery and hopefully, get our lives back to what they once were,” Porter wrote.

The CDC report is based on telephone surveys of 274 COVID-19 patients. Ninety-five of those patients, or 35 percent, said they “had not returned to their usual state of health” when they were surveyed, which was at least two to three weeks after their first test. Many with long-term symptoms are otherwise young and healthy: Among those surveyed between ages 18 and 34, about 20 percent experienced lasting symptoms.

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“..his position on face masks changed when the evidence showed asymptomatic transmission..”

Yeah, and that was way too late. With an unknown pathogen, you don’t first wait for evidence, you go back to zero and do at least the obvious; wearing a mask is exactly that. Plus, if you first say there’s no need, you already lost most of your credibility when you state afterward that there is.

Fauci didn’t know any more than anyone else what went on in the beginning. But still everyone called on him. Recipe for disaster, because he wasn’t going to admit he didn’t have a clue.

Fauci: I Would Not Get On A Plane Or Eat Inside A Restaurant (MW)

If the speed and duration of the coronavirus pandemic is getting you down, spare a thought for Fauci. Are we there yet? How far are we on this journey through the pandemic? Near the finish line? Halfway? Or are we back where we started? “It’s a moving target,” he said. “I certainly don’t think we’re near the end of this if you look at what’s going on in the United States, that’s for sure.” [..] Fauci is consistently rated as the country’s most trusted voice on coronavirus. His dealing with the fire and passion of Kramer may have helped to give Fauci a tough skin to deal with the slings and arrows in recent weeks, particularly from the White House.

Fauci maintains that his position on face masks changed when the evidence showed asymptomatic transmission. He is eager to point out that millennials and young adults need to wear masks and practice social distancing too. [..] I presume you are not hanging out in restaurants or bars. Is it really more dangerous to eat indoors at a restaurant than outdoors? Fauci: Yes, absolutely. Indoors is much worse than outdoors. If you’re going to go to a restaurant, try as best as you can to have outdoor seating that is properly spaced between the tables. MarketWatch: So you’re not going to restaurants? You wouldn’t risk it? Fauci: I am not going to restaurants right now.

[..] Do you have any estimate on how less likely people are to transmit coronavirus if they’re wearing a mask: 50%? 99%? Or…? Fauci: We don’t know exactly. There have been a number of meta analyses. One published in The Lancet on June 1, 2020 said masks and respirators reduced the risk of infection by anywhere from 78% to 85%. Your guess is as good as any: 50% to 75% or 80% is probably correct.

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Open borders?!

Hunger, Lack of Vaccine Could Trigger New Migration Wave – Red Cross Chief (RT)

Once borders are unsealed, a massive amount of people will set out for the wealthiest nations, fleeing Covid-related poverty, the Red Cross chief said. Migrants will also be driven by the search for a working vaccine.
Jagan Chapagain, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), made the grim prediction in a candid comment to AFP this Thursday. Lockdowns and border closures enforced in most parts of the world are already driving people beyond the edge of poverty. Desperation forces them to choose between exposure to Covid-19 and the risk of going hungry, Chapagain explained.

What we hear is that many people who are losing livelihoods, once the borders start opening, will feel compelled to move. It should not be a surprise if “a massive impact on migration” occurs in the years or even months to come. However, the potential migration crisis could be averted or eased if these grievances are tackled before migrants leave their home countries, the IFRC chief said, offering one bold economic argument to back up his point. “The cost of supporting the migrants, during the transit and of course when they reach the country of destination, is much more than supporting people in their livelihoods, education, health needs in their own country,” he said. European leaders made similar arguments in the wake of the major migrant influx that hit the continent in 2015 and 2016.

Germany, the prime destination for asylum seekers, pledged millions for reconstruction programs across the Middle East and North Africa. Another driving factor beyond the looming migration wave is also directly related to the pandemic, which has infected over 15.5 million and killed more than 633,000 people worldwide. Potential migrants could feel that their chances of survival are better “on the other side of the sea,” Chapagain said without indicating any particular destination. People will base their decision to move on “the availability of [Covid-19] vaccines.” “If people see that the vaccine is say, for example, available in Europe but not in Africa, what happens?” He also took a swipe at countries expected to keep reserves of promising vaccines for themselves first.

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“..In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. ..”

Supreme Court Rejects Church Challenge To Nevada COVID Restrictions (Solomon)

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a Christian church’s plea to ease Nevada’s COVID-19 restrictions and allow additional worshipers at Sunday services in a ruling that showcased a sharp divide among the justices. “The application for injunctive relief presented to JUSTICE KAGAN and by her referred to the Court is denied,” the court ruled without further explanation in rejecting an appeal by Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley. At issue was a Nevada rule that limited church services to 50 people – regardless of the size of the church building — while allowing other commercial entities like casinos and theaters to have customers up to 50 percent of their building capacity.


Four conservative justices — Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — strongly dissented, arguing the differing standards created unequal protection under the law. “This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10-screen ‘multiplex’ may host 500 moviegoers at any time,” Gorsuch wrote. “….In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion.” The Trump White House weighed in by siding with the justices, with chief of staff Mark Meadows tweeting “It’s a sad day for our country when the high court supports casinos and not churches. This Supreme Court ruling would be a supreme disappointment to our founding fathers.”

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Guess this will up in the Supreme Court as well.

Judge Refuses Oregon Restraining Order Against Federal Law Enforcement (OPB)

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman rejected an effort by Oregon’s attorney general to restrict federal law enforcement agencies as they police protests in downtown Portland. Oregon asked a judge to make federal officers identify themselves and their agency before arresting or detaining a person and to prohibit arrests that lack probable cause. In his 14-page ruling, Mosman said the state lacked standing to bring the case, in part because Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum failed to show the interests of the state of Oregon itself had been harmed. “In the first place, although it involves allegations of harm done to protesters by law enforcement, no protester is a plaintiff here,” Mosman stated in his written order.


“In the second place, it is not seeking redress for any harm that has been done to protesters. Instead, it seeks an injunction against future conduct, which is also an extraordinary form of relief.” In a statement, Rosenblum said she was disappointed in Mosman’s decision, noting that her goal was to ensure people’s rights are protected. “While I respect Judge Mosman, I would ask this question: If the state of Oregon does not have standing to prevent this unconstitutional conduct by unidentified federal agents running roughshod over her citizens, who does?” Rosenblum asked. “Individuals mistreated by these federal agents can sue for damages, but they can’t get a judge to restrain this unlawful conduct more generally. Today’s ruling suggests that there may be no recourse on behalf of our state, and if so that is extremely troubling.”

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Renters AND mortgagees.

Meanwhile, protections against evictions are as scattered and confusing from state to state as the various COVID measures are.

Wave Of Evictions Could Be Coming For Nation’s Renters (Hill)

The federal moratorium on evictions signed into law in March as part of the CARES Act is set to expire Friday night at midnight, setting up the potential for a wave of evictions in the middle of a pandemic that President Trump acknowledged this week will get worse before it gets better. It’s possible that the moratorium will be extended as part of a new relief bill, but Congress is mired in negotiations and is not expected to finalize legislation until early August. Some Democrats are sounding the alarm. “Communities across this country need eviction protections and housing assistance in order to avert mass evictions and homelessness,” said Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.).

“If we fail to act, recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the looming economic crisis will be impossible.” The most recent survey by the U.S. Census showed that 23.7 million Americans had little or no confidence in their ability to pay the coming month’s rent, accounting for a third of all renters. Over half that number already reported not paying their most recent month’s rent. Not everyone facing eviction has been protected by the federal moratorium. It only applied to people renting from units with federal mortgages, which accounts for just over a quarter of all rental units, according to an analysis from the Urban Institute.

Other renters have been protected by broader eviction moratoria issued at the state and local level, but some of those have already expired. In June, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that it is extending its foreclosure and eviction moratorium through August 31 for those with federally-insured single-family mortgages. “You just sort of have a patchwork across the country,” said Samantha Batko, senior research associate at the Urban Institute. But for those whose sole protection has come from the federal moratorium, a number which could amount to millions of renters, Saturday could start with a demand for months of delayed rent, or an eviction notice.

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2,000 planes a-rusting, and a partridge in a pear tree.

FAA Orders Emergency Inspections Of 2,000 Boeing 737s Post-Lockdown (USAT)

Airlines face another headache from the coronavirus pandemic: potentially dangerous corrosion on planes that have been in storage since travel demand evaporated five months ago. The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) for 2,000 Boeing 737s that have been parked. The FAA issued the directive after inspectors found compromised air check valves when bringing the aircraft out of storage, agency spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. Corrosion on the “fifth stage bleed air check valve” could result in dual-engine failure, he said. Airlines must inspect the planes for valve corrosion, and if it is found, they must be replaced before the plane is returned to service, he said.

The FAA took the action after four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns due to check valves being stuck open, according to the Airworthiness Directive. It did not detail the incidents or name the airlines operating them. “If this valve opens normally at takeoff power, it may become stuck in the open position during flight and fail to close when power is reduced at top of descent, resulting in an unrecoverable compressor stall and the inability to restart the engine,” the agency said. “Corrosion of these valves on both engines could result in a dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart.”

[..] Boeing spokesman Peter Pedraza issued this statement in response to the FAA directive: “Out of an abundance of caution, Boeing has advised operators of 737 Classic airplanes (series -300 to -500) and Next-Generation 737s (series -600 to -900) to inspect an engine valve for corrosion,” the statement said. “With airplanes being stored or used infrequently due to lower demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, the valve can be more susceptible to corrosion. Boeing is providing inspection and replacement information to fleet owners if they find an issue.” The directive does not include the Boeing 737 Max, which has been grounded since March 2019 following two fatal crashes in less than six months.

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But Goldman expects it to be cut by 50%?! And Pelosi doesn’t want it, she wants something much bigger that will take much longer to pass?

A Second Round Of $1,200 Stimulus Checks Could Be Coming (CNBC)

Congress won’t move on the next round of stimulus legislation this week. Despite that, however, a second set of stimulus checks is still on the table. Draft legislation released by Senate Republicans states, “These will be included, but the amount of the payment and eligibility are TBA [to be announced].” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this week that the size and scope of the payments will likely be the same as the first round. That is subject to change as negotiations with Democrats ensue. Those checks were up to $1,200 per individual or $2,400 per married couple, plus $500 for dependents under 17. Eligibility was based on income. Those earning up to $75,000 per individual, or $150,000 per married couple filing jointly, received the full amount.


Those who made more than that received reduced payments. Individuals who make more than $99,000 and married couples with over $198,000 in income were not eligible for the money. A second set of payments would be a concession for some Republicans, who are reluctant to send more money. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., previously suggested lowering the income threshold to those making $40,000 or less. The stimulus checks are part of President Donald Trump’s plan to get relief help to Americans quickly, Mnuchin said in a Thursday CNBC interview. While the president still likes the idea of a payroll tax cut, more direct payments would get money to people sooner, Mnuchin said. “The President’s preference is to make sure that we send out direct payments quickly so that in August, people get more money,” Mnuchin said.

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“..the whole continent will be treated to an intensification of the doom loop between austerity and recession…”

Recovery Fund Will Take EU Another Step Towards Disintegration (Varoufakis)

First, the recovery fund is a distraction from the elephant in the room: massive austerity. According to the IMF, the eurozone’s total 2020 income will fall by 10%, causing an average budget deficit of more than 11%, with weaker countries such as Italy and Greece facing a much larger drop. That would not be catastrophic per se, if it were not for the determination of Berlin and other governments to push member states to balance their books by 2021 (as witnessed by the 11 June Eurogroup communique). Even if the nascent recovery brings down, for example, Italy’s budget deficit to, say, 9%, to balance its books Rome must impose a cruel level of austerity equal to a new 9% of GDP in cuts and taxes. Similarly with Greece. Given that even Germany will have to practise austerity to balance its budget, the whole continent will be treated to an intensification of the doom loop between austerity and recession.

Second, the recovery fund is (macroeconomically) puny. For it to defend the union, it should pack a fiscal boost comparable in magnitude to the austerity tsunami down the line. It does not. Take Italy and Greece again, countries that must face down immense austerity. How much of this shock can the recovery fund monies help absorb? Not a lot, is the answer. To arrive at a precise answer, we must first ignore the new loans on offer from the recovery fund (since new debt has never helped the insolvent) and concentrate exclusively on net grants. Italy has been allocated around €80bn and Greece €23bn. However, every member state must take on part of the new €750bn EU debt. Italy, for example, is liable for just under 13% of this debt while poorer Greece is liable for 1.4%. Once we subtract these new debts, Italy’s and Greece’s net grants come to just over €30bn and €12bn respectively – or 0.6% and 2% of GDP on an annual basis between 2021 and 2023. Compared to the prospect of austerity equivalent to 9% of GDP, which will be required to balance their budgets, these are puny sums.

Third, the political conditions under which the funds will flow are a Eurosceptic’s dream. When a recession hits the UK, the government’s budget deficit rises automatically as benefits flow disproportionately towards the most affected regions. The beauty of such a proper fiscal union is that no politician can decide which region gets which transfer. Imagine the sheer awfulness if parliament had to debate how much would be transferred to Cumbria, to Norfolk or to north Wales from Surrey, Sussex and west London. Britain would be wrecked by divisions that make Brexit look like an amicable affair. And yet this divisiveness has been baked into the EU recovery fund, complete with country allocations drawn up even before we know the effects of the recession on each region. It is almost as if the whole thing were designed by a cunning Eurosceptic.

As if that were not enough, our great and good leaders also decided that each national government will have the right to freeze payments, for up to three months, to any other government while it scrutinises how the money is to be spent. Endless recriminations are guaranteed, as the Dutch lambast the Italian government’s pension payments and Rome returns the favour with reports on the Netherlands’ famous tax loopholes. Imagine the mood in the room when such a challenge is made to, say, Spain, by a prime minister whose government the EU bribed, in the form of Thatcher-like rebates, to get the recovery fund across the line.

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Not going to happen. The media are running his campaign.

Media Should Be ‘Pressuring’ Biden To ‘Answer Questions’ – Howard Kurtz (Fox)

Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz called on the press to pressure presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to “answer questions,” saying it’s his responsibility as a candidate and that “playing it safe” could backfire. “Many Democrats seem convinced that while it’s a great strategy for [Biden] not to talk to the press, the press, by the way, should be pressuring the former vice president to answer questions because that’s part of the responsibility of a presidential candidate,” Kurtz said on “Bill Hemmer Reports.” Kurtz advised Biden not to commit to the strategy, saying that while many criticize President Trump, he is taking questions. He noted that Biden may reconsider it if his polling takes a hit.

“Look, not just as a journalist, but as an American, I think that Biden shouldn’t adopt this posture, that I’m just going to do the canned speeches, teleprompter speeches, so forth,” Kurtz said. “President Trump, like him or don’t like him, he is out there doing interviews, talking to reporters. He’s got the daily briefings now all the time. Joe Biden is not doing that.” The media analyst also commented on Biden’s release of a socially distanced conversation with former President Barack Obama where they ripped Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. “The Obama card is, in fact, the strongest card that Joe Biden has to play,” Kurtz said. “And the reason he’s playing it now is that President Trump has been ramping up his attacks against the former V.P. and in a virtual campaign, Biden wants to connect with Obama’s 120 million Twitter followers.

Joe is kind of a dot on social media. So he had been sitting on his lead with the stay at home strategy until now.” Kurtz speculated that using Obama’s legacy could backfire on the candidate. “Using Barack Obama, Bill, as a character witness is a double edged sword, because as we saw from that White House pushback, President Trump would love nothing more than to run against the Obama administration’s record on policing, on immigration and other issues,” Kurtz said. “And it could change the contest from what is now, quite frankly, a referendum on Donald Trump, who dominates the media spotlight to a future versus past comparison. You know, do you really want to go back to the old days?”

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Let it roll. Who’s paying attention anymore?

As US Debt Rises, Biden’s Spending Proposals Near $10 Trillion (JTN)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s spending proposals are nearing $10 trillion, even as U.S. debt continues to rise amid new coronavirus spending. In the past month alone, Biden has proposed nearly $3.48 trillion in new taxes and spending. Biden’s new childcare and eldercare proposal released Tuesday calls for $775 billion in taxes and new government spending. The Biden campaign’s energy plan released last week will cost taxpayers $2 trillion. “Biden will make a $2 trillion accelerated investment, with a plan to deploy those resources over his first term, setting us on an irreversible course to meet the ambitious climate progress that science demands,” stated the Biden campaign’s website. During a speech in Pennsylvania earlier this month, Biden also promised a $700-billion “buy American” manufacturing plan.


Adding the $3.48 trillion in spending proposed in the past month to the more than $6 trillion Biden had already proposed, brings Biden’s total proposed costs to almost $10 trillion. An analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated that Biden’s healthcare plan has a gross cost of $2.25 trillion and would add a net $800 billion after offsets to deficits over ten years. Biden has vowed to raise taxes by $4 trillion, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Biden’s proposed $4 trillion in new taxes more than doubles the $1.4 trillion that Hillary Clinton proposed in 2016, according to a 2016 analysis by the Tax Policy Center, which is a joint venture of the left-leaning Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

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“How the hell can Donald Trump be the first racist president in a country where 12 presidents before him owned slaves?”

Easy, because that’s what you get when you let white people speak for black people. The whole movement’s been hijacked, and we’re going to pretend we don’t know that?

Charlamagne Tha God Slams Biden For Calling Trump First Racist President (NYP)

The presumptive Democratic nominee made the comment during a virtual town hall Wednesday in response to concerns voiced by a health care worker about the president referring to the coronavirus pandemic as the “China virus.” “The way he deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening,” the former veep said. “No sitting president has ever done this. Never, never, never. No Republican president has done this. No Democratic president. We’ve had racists, and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get elected president. He’s the first one that has,” Biden added.

Charlamagne, co-host of “The Breakfast Club,” reacted to Biden’s characterization by declaring him Thursday’s “Donkey of the Day,” Fox News reported. “I really wish Joe Biden would shut the f–k up forever and continue to act like he’s starring in the movie ‘A Quiet Place’ because as soon as he opens his mouth and makes noise, he gets us all killed, OK?” he said. Charlamagne also accused Biden of “revisionist history,” describing his claim about the commander-in-chief as “a lie” that “relinquishes America of all responsibility of its bigotry.” “How are we ever going to atone for America’s original sins if we don’t acknowledge them?” he said. “How the hell can Donald Trump be the first racist president in a country where 12 presidents before him owned slaves?”

“Joe, you got to hurry up and announce your black woman VP so I can be enthused about voting for her because I will never be enthused about voting for you, and you know America is a terrible place when Kanye West seems like a viable option,” Charlamagne added. Charlamagne made headlines during his recent interview with Biden, who suggested that African American voters “ain’t black” if they were still considering voting for Trump in November. Biden walked back his remarks later.

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Distorting reality to go after a 17-year old kid is pretty low. But he’s not defenseless. In fact, he could be very rich when all is said and done.

Why was he targeted? Because he wore a MAGA hat. With WaPo and CNN having forked over, ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Hill and NBC Universal well have to as well. Good.

WaPo Settles $250 Million Lawsuit With Covington Teen Nick Sandmann (ZH)

The Washington Post has settled a $250 million defamation lawsuit filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann for an undisclosed amount, after the teen claimed the left-leaning news outlet ‘led the hate campaign’ against him following a racially charged January, 2019 incident at the March for Life Rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Sandmann was viciously attacked by left-leaning news outlets over a deceptively edited video clip from the incident, in which the teenager, seen wearing a MAGA hat, appeared to be mocking a Native American man beating a drum (a known political grifter who lied about the incident, and stole valor). The following day, a longer version of the video revealed that Sandmann did absolutely nothing wrong – as the Native American, Nathan Phillips, aggressively approached Sandmann and beat a drum in his face.


In a tweet on his 18th birthday, Sandmann wrote “On 2/19/19, I filed $250M defamation lawsuit against Washington Post. Today, I turned 18 & WaPo settled my lawsuit.”

Sandmann is also suing ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Hill and NBC Universal.

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Please read the whole thing. This story is getting wilder by the day. Remember Fiona Hill? Well, she’s front and center in the whole scheme.

Meet the Steele Dossier’s ‘Primary Subsource’ (RCI)

The mysterious “Primary Subsource” that Christopher Steele has long hidden behind to defend his discredited Trump-Russia dossier is a former Brookings Institution analyst — Igor “Iggy” Danchenko, a Russian national whose past includes criminal convictions and other personal baggage ignored by the FBI in vetting him and the information he fed to Steele, according to congressional sources and records obtained by RealClearInvestigations. Agents continued to use the dossier as grounds to investigate President Trump and put his advisers under counter-espionage surveillance.

The 42-year-old Danchenko, who was hired by Steele in 2016 to deploy a network of sources to dig up dirt on Trump and Russia for the Hillary Clinton campaign, was arrested, jailed and convicted years earlier on multiple public drunkenness and disorderly conduct charges in the Washington area and ordered to undergo substance-abuse and mental-health counseling, according to criminal records. In an odd twist, a 2013 federal case against Danchenko was prosecuted by then-U.S Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who ended up signing one of the FBI’s dossier-based wiretap warrants as deputy attorney general in 2017.

Danchenko first ran into trouble with the law as he began working for Brookings — the preeminent Democratic think tank in Washington — where he struck up a friendship with Fiona Hill, the White House adviser who testified against Trump during last year’s impeachment hearings. Danchenko has described Hill as a mentor, while Hill has sung his praises as a “creative” researcher. Hill is also close to his boss Steele, who she’d known since 2006. She met with the former British intelligence officer during the 2016 campaign and later received a raw, unpublished copy of the now-debunked dossier.

It does not appear the FBI asked Danchenko about his criminal past or state of sobriety when agents interviewed him in January 2017 in a failed attempt to verify the accuracy of the dossier, which the bureau did only after agents used it to obtain a warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The opposition research was farmed out by Steele, working for Clinton’s campaign, to Danchenko, who was paid for the information he provided. A newly declassified FBI summary of the FBI-Danchenko meeting reveals agents learned that key allegations in the dossier, which claimed Trump engaged in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Kremlin against Clinton, were largely inspired by gossip and bar talk among Danchenko and his drinking buddies, most of whom were childhood friends from Russia.

The FBI memo is heavily redacted and blacks out the name of Steele’s Primary Subsource. But public records and congressional sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirm the identity of the source as Danchenko. In the memo, the FBI notes that Danchenko said that he and one of his dossier sources “drink heavily together.” But there is no apparent indication the FBI followed up by asking Danchenko if he had an alcohol problem, which would cast further doubt on his reliability as a source for one of the most important and sensitive investigations in FBI history.

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Jul 202020
 


Jack Delano “Lower Manhattan seen from the S.S. Coamo leaving New York.” 1941

 

Are Mutations Making Coronavirus More Infectious? (BBC)
When The US Sneezes, The World Catches A Cold. Now It Has Severe COVID19 (R.)
S&P Says Governments Must Spend To Support Coronavirus-Hit Economy (CNBC)
Global Banks Scrutinize Their Hong Kong Clients For Pro-Democracy Ties (R.)
Global Real Estate Investment Plunges 33% Amid Covid Pandemic (BBC)
Global Air Travel Demand Won’t Recover Till At Least 2023 – Moody’s (RT)
Boeing Is Running Out Of Space To Park Its Newly-Built 787 Dreamliners (ZH)
‘Diametrically Opposed Positions’ in EU On Coronavirus Rescue Package (EN)
The “Frugal” Countries Are Right (Lacalle)
Meadows Signals Imminent Indictments In Durham Probe (Fox)
BBC’s Andrew Marr Suggests Scottish Independence Is A Russian Plot (Nat.)

 

 

It looks like the facemask issue is being absolved by US politics. That is a shame because it’s not as if we have such a wide array of initial defense options against COVID19.

Trump gets scolded for calling Fauci an alarmist, but what he actually said was “a bit of an alarmist”. And that’s really a nice way of putting it, because would anyone want to question that he is? The man has said some strange things.

That goes back to what I’ve covered before, a long time ago already, that in the initial phase of dealing with an unknown pathogen, epidemiologists are not the people to listen to, because it’s unknown to them as well. You need basic risk assessment, and basic tools. Lockdowns and masks are prominent among those tools.

Today, we know so little still, even if many would claim we’ve gathered a lot of knowledge, that they remain those tools. And now they’re being lost to arguments that have nothing at all to do with the pathogen. Maybe that is inevitable as distancing is not an inborn human trait, but the consequences are potentially huge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cautionary tale from Switzerland, where a New Dead/New Case index shot up after the use of HCQ was stopped and went back down when it was resumed.

 

 

“With relatively low levels of natural immunity in the population, no vaccine and few effective treatments, there’s no pressure on it to adapt.”

Are Mutations Making Coronavirus More Infectious? (BBC)

This coronavirus is actually changing very slowly compared with a virus-like flu. With relatively low levels of natural immunity in the population, no vaccine and few effective treatments, there’s no pressure on it to adapt. So far, it’s doing a good job of keeping itself in circulation as it is. The notable mutation – named D614G and situated within the protein making up the virus’s “spike” it uses to break into our cells – appeared sometime after the initial Wuhan outbreak, probably in Italy. It is now seen in as many as 97% of samples around the world. The question is whether this dominance is the mutation giving the virus some advantage, or whether it’s just by chance. Viruses don’t have a grand plan. They mutate constantly and while some changes will help a virus reproduce, some may hinder it. Others are simply neutral.

They’re a “by-product of the virus replicating,” says Dr Lucy van Dorp, of University College London. They “hitch-hike” on the virus without changing its behaviour. The mutation that has emerged could have become very widespread just because it happened early in the outbreak and spread – something known as the “founder effect”. This is what Dr van Dorp and her team believe is the likely explanation for the mutation being so common. But this is increasingly controversial. A growing number – perhaps the majority – of virologists now believe, as Dr Thushan de Silva, at the University of Sheffield, explains, there is enough data to say this version of the virus has a “selective advantage” – an evolutionary edge – over the earlier version.

[..] When studied in laboratory conditions, the mutated virus was better at entering human cells than those without the variation, say professors Hyeryun Choe and Michael Farzan, at Scripps University in Florida. Changes to the spike protein the virus uses to latch on to human cells seem to allow it to “stick together better and function more efficiently”. When it comes to looking at the population as a whole, it’s difficult to observe the virus becoming more (or less) infectious. Its course has been drastically altered by interventions, including lockdowns.

But Prof Korber says the fact the variant now appears to be dominant everywhere, including in China, indicates it may have become better at spreading between people than the original version. Whenever the two versions were in circulation at the same time, the new variant took over. In fact, the D614G variant is so dominant, it is now the pandemic. And it has been for some time – perhaps even since the start of the epidemic in places like the UK and the east coast of the US. So, while evidence is mounting that this mutation is not neutral, it doesn’t necessarily change how we should think about the virus and its spread.

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Global trade was a useless bubble anyway. COVID can teach us the value of localizing again. If we’re wise.

When The US Sneezes, The World Catches A Cold. Now It Has Severe COVID19 (R.)

During a blue-sky moment in 2018 near the end of a decade-long economic expansion, it was the United States that helped pull the world along as the extra cash from tax cuts and government spending flowed through domestic and global markets. But if it was U.S. policy that pushed the world higher then, it is U.S. policy that threatens to pull the world under now as the country’s troubled response to the coronavirus pandemic emerges as a chief risk to any sustained global recovery. Officials from Mexico to Japan are already on edge. Exports have taken a hit in Germany, and Canada looks south warily knowing that any further hit to U.S. growth will undoubtedly spill over.

“Globally there will be difficult months and years ahead and it is of particular concern that the number of COVID-19 cases is still rising,” the International Monetary Fund said in a review of the U.S. economy that cited “social unrest” due to rising poverty as one of the risks to economic growth. “The risk ahead is that a large share of the U.S. population will have to contend with an important deterioration of living standards and significant economic hardship for several years. This, in turn, can further weaken demand and exacerbate longer-term headwinds to growth.”

[..] The U.S. economy accounts for about a quarter of world gross domestic product. Though much of that is service-related, and much of the direct impact of the virus is tied up in industries like restaurants with weak links to the global economy, the connections are still there. A lost job leads to lower consumer spending leads to fewer imports; weak business conditions lead to less investment in the equipment or supplies that are often produced elsewhere. Year-to-date U.S. imports through May are down more than 13%, or roughly $176 billion. In Germany, whose measures to contain the pandemic are considered to have been among the most effective, exports to the United States plunged 36% year-over-year in May. Analysts see little prospect for improvement, with year-to-date U.S. auto sales through June down nearly 24% from a year earlier.

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But some will insist the global trade bubble must be reinvented.

S&P Says Governments Must Spend To Support Coronavirus-Hit Economy (CNBC)

With the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating a slowdown in the global economy, governments around the world may have no choice but to increase spending to support businesses and households well into the next year, according to an economist from S&P Global Ratings. Many governments have announced large amounts of fiscal support in the wake of the pandemic. But some countries, including the U.S., have shown “a degree of fiscal fatigue” and are considering rolling back some of the stimulus, said Shaun Roache, the ratings agency’s chief economist for Asia Pacific.


“We’re seeing some fiscal policymakers think about pulling back some of their measures or maybe letting them expire without renewing them, and that’s quite a dangerous thing to do when demand in the rest of the economy still remains quite suppressed,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Monday. “So we expect and we hope to see some of those fiscal measures being renewed, pushed forward into the next year. That is going to mean more fiscal easing but at the moment there is no alternative to that,” he added. Roache explained that additional spending will worsen the balance sheets of governments, but it’s necessary to “prevent things from getting even worse.” That’s especially so when authorities have to take actions that suppress economic activity to contain the virus given the absence of an apparent medical solution to the outbreak, he added.

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They’re trying to comply with both Chinese and US demands at the same time. Good luck with that.

Global Banks Scrutinize Their Hong Kong Clients For Pro-Democracy Ties (R.)

Global wealth managers are examining whether their clients in Hong Kong have ties to the city’s pro-democracy movement, in an attempt to avoid getting caught in the crosshairs of China’s new national security law, according to six people with knowledge of the matter. Bankers at Credit Suisse Group, HSBC, Julius Baer and UBS, among others, are broadening scrutiny under their programs that screen clients for political and government ties and subjecting them to additional diligence requirements, these people said. The designation, called politically exposed persons, can make it more difficult or altogether prevent people from accessing banking services, depending on what the bank finds about the person’s source of wealth or financial transactions.


The checks at some wealth managers have involved combing through comments made by clients and their associates in public and in media, and social media posts in the recent past, these people said. The new law prohibits what Beijing describes broadly as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison for offenders. The sources, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the broadened scrutiny of clients also applied to Hong Kong and Chinese officials who had implemented the law in anticipation of any U.S. sanctions against them. One banker at a global wealth manager that holds more than $200 billion in assets said the audit of its clients could go back as far as 2014 in some cases to gauge a client’s political stance since Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy “umbrella” movement. Protesters at the time used umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas and pepper spray deployed by police.

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Fine by me.

Global Real Estate Investment Plunges 33% Amid Covid Pandemic (BBC)

Global real estate investment fell by 33% in the first half as the coronavirus pandemic battered economies and disrupted deals. The Asia-Pacific region took the biggest hit, with volumes down 45% from the year-earlier period, because it was the first struck by the outbreak, according to a report from broker Savills Plc. Investment dropped by 36% in the Americas and 19% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. With the tourism industry shut down for months by government lockdowns, hotels saw investment decline by 59% in the first half of the year, followed by a 41% drop for retail properties, according to the Savills report. Industrial and residential properties fared better.


Investment is “expected to remain well below pre-pandemic levels for the rest of 2020 as investors wait for market clarity,” Simon Hope, Savills head of global capital markets, said in a statement on Monday. “However, certain sectors are expected to outperform as investors focus on secure assets, namely logistics, residential and life sciences.” The IMF has forecast that global GDP will shrink 4.9% this year as the pandemic wears on. IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath has said the cumulative loss for the world economy this year and next as a result of the recession is expected to reach $12.5 trillion. Still, the investment decline was less severe than at the start of the last financial crisis in the first half of 2008, when investment cratered by 49% and kept falling until the middle of 2009, Sophie Chick, director of Savills World Research team, said in the statement.

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Good for the planet.

Global Air Travel Demand Won’t Recover Till At Least 2023 – Moody’s (RT)

Airline passenger numbers are not expected to recover to the levels before the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in nationwide shutdowns around the world, for at least three years, Moody’s Investors Service warns. The drop in demand could last even longer as the recovery depends on how fast health and safety concerns are relieved, according to the agency’s recent research. Noting the rising number of infections across the US, Moody’s analysts said that passenger demand “may ultimately align with its slower recovery case, or worse,” if strict quarantine measures are reinforced. Airlines saw demand plunge by more than 90% shortly after the pandemic struck.

Given that the industry supports economic activity across many sectors, providing thousands of jobs and supporting fuel demand, the severe blow will affect a broad swath of the global economy “well into 2022 and beyond,” according to the report. “Passenger demand for air travel drives demand for key stakeholders in the aviation industry, including airport operators, aircraft leasing companies and aircraft manufacturers, as well as a multitude of service providers that keep airlines and airports running,” Moody’s Senior Vice President Jonathan Root said in a statement. He added that demand for the key stakeholders’ products and services may fall between 40 and 50 percent or even more this year, while they are expected to feel the impact of the coronavirus crisis for at least the next three years.

While the recovery for airlines and airports will be largely aligned, followed by aircraft lessors, plane makers will be the last to regain their 2019 footing. “To the extent that an environment characterized by fits and starts of health safety confidence levels and ensuing passenger demand persists beyond 2021, the risk of more extensive industry disruption and a more protracted recovery period would escalate further,” Moody’s Associate Managing Director Russell Solomon said.

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Nothing that a new big bailout can’t fix.

Boeing Is Running Out Of Space To Park Its Newly-Built 787 Dreamliners (ZH)

While Morgan Stanley continues to stubbornly repeat that the US economy is undergoing a jolly V-shaped recovery, one would be very hard pressed to observe that in either the number of airline passengers, or the commercial aerospace sector in general, where Boeing has become a poster child for how quickly the fate can turn… and it’s not just the company’s ill-fated Boeing 737 MAX which may or may not fly again. According to Bloomberg, Boeing is now also running out of space to stash newly-built 787 Dreamliners, as unsold jetliners are now crammed onto “every available patch of pavement on airfields near its factories in Washington and South Carolina.”

Citing people familiar with the situation, Bloomberg writes that “dozens of the planes are sitting on the company’s premises” with Uresh Sheth, a closely followed blogger who meticulously tracks the Dreamliners rolling through Boeing’s factories, putting the total somewhere above 50. That’s more than double the number of jets typically awaiting customers along Boeing’s flight lines. According to Sheth, brand-new widebodies are lined up on a closed off runway at the airport that abuts Boeing’s hulking plant north of Seattle. In North Charleston, 787s are tucked around the delivery center and a paint hangar. The U.S. planemaker has even started sending aircraft to be stored in a desert lot in Victorville, California.

Boeing’s troubles with parked jets are nothing new: last year Boeing had so many 737 Maxes after their global ground when it emerged that Boeing had drastically cut corners to save on costs even if it meant risking people’s lives, that it commandeered an employee parking lot to store surplus aircraft. Now, as it finally starts to emerge from that crisis, another critical source of cash – the company’s marquee jet, the 787 Dreamliner – is under pressure but not do to airworthiness concerns but simply due to the global depression that commercial air traffic has found itself in.

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The rich governments have their rich voters to appease.

‘Diametrically Opposed Positions’ in EU On Coronavirus Rescue Package (EN)

There is still no agreement among EU leaders on a massive coronavirus recovery package after three days of intense meetings in Brussels. Leaders left the marathon summit early Monday morning and are set to resume talks at 16:00 CET. The summit was originally planned to end on Saturday. Talks have focussed on a proposed €1.68 trillion package, a seven-year budget and a coronavirus recovery fund. Eastern Europe leaders have opposed attaching rule of law conditions, while southern European countries are rejecting demands from the so-called frugal four, now five, countries – Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – for a great sum bound by economic reform requirements.

EU Council President Charles Michel urged leaders to set aside disagreements on Sunday night. “Are the 27 EU leaders capable of building European unity and trust or, because of a deep rift, will we present ourselves as a weak Europe, undermined by distrust,” he said in a copy of the speech obtained by the AP. Early Monday morning, Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz tweeted that “tough negotiations had ended” but that leaders can be “very happy with today’s result.” Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has provided the strongest opposition to the plans on the table – said to be insisting on a cap of €350 billion worth of grants – preferring loans of strict conditions.

The recovery fund had originally set €500 billion to be handed out as grants and €250 billion in loans. Differences were so great that Sunday’s resumption of talks by all 27 leaders together was pushed back several hours as small groups worked on new compromise proposals. “The actual size of the package in terms of the scale of the package and the balance within the package between grants and loans, that’s where significant disagreement still remains, notwithstanding movement yesterday and overnight,” said Irish Taoiseach, Micheál Martin. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said in his seven years’ experience of European meetings he “had never seen positions as diametrically opposed as this.”

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To an economist, everything may well look like an economics issue, because everything is about money, we get it. But is this really the appropriate time to discuss this? Is Southern Europe had been destroyed by a hurricane or an earthquake, would you want to have the same conversation? And we get it, the north has been hit too, but they’re in much better shape. The essence is that solidarity is not an economics issue, and perhaps that should chase economists away from the negotiating table. If you had just decided on coronabonds, none of this would have been necessary. It all simply shows that the north are determined to continue profiting from the south, and that solidarity is an alien concept to them.

The “Frugal” Countries Are Right (Lacalle)

There is no solidarity without responsibility. The European Union Recovery Fund cannot be used as an excuse to perpetuate bloated political spending and create a transfer union where governments use taxpayers’ money to increase bureaucracy, because it would be the end of the European project. A union based on excess spending, debt and extractive policies would be destroyed in a few years. The strength of a unified group of countries comes from diversity and responsibility. No one denies the challenges created by the Covid-19 crisis, but there are countries that have used the excuse of the pandemic to inflate political spending and now demand free money.

The Spanish government has doubled the cost of government, maintained all the spending it increased during the growth period and increased the number of ministerial seats and advisors despite the crisis. Additionally, the government has approved a basic income plan that had no budget or fiscal space. There has been no management of costs whatsoever to allow budget room for automatic stabilizers, health, and unemployment costs. A government that increased the deficit in 2019 by 24% in a year of 2% GDP growth and record tax revenues has doubled the cost of government in the crisis and now demands no conditions or scrutiny from other member states.

Why would a serious government oppose a detailed scrutiny of the funds received? It should welcome it. Why would a government that calls itself reformist and states its commitment to budget stability reject any structural reform proposed by other member states? They should be implementing them now. Furthermore, why would a government that talks about an unprecedented emergency prefer to receive less funds than to accept the member states’ monitoring of grants? One could suspect that they are not aiming to use the funds in the most effective way.

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We’ve heard that too much. You have 3.5 months.

Meadows Signals Imminent Indictments In Durham Probe (Fox)

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Sunday that it’s “time for people to go to jail” as part of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into FBI misconduct — prompting ex-Trump aide George Papadopoulos to sound a celebratory note on Twitter. The comments came as Fox News learned this weekend that Jennifer Boone, a senior FBI official who oversaw the flawed probe into former Trump adviser Carter Page, has received a major promotion to lead a field office — and the bureau won’t say why. Meadows, during his Sunday interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” also previewed the Trump administration’s soon-to-be-released plans for reopening schools and implementing new economic stimulus measures.

More details, Meadows said, would be coming this week. However, Meadows’ comments on the Durham probe were among his most suggestive yet. They followed Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments to Fox News earlier this year that Durham’s findings have been “very troubling” and that familiar names are currently being probed. “I think the American people are expecting indictments,” Meadows told anchor Maria Bartiromo. “I expect indictments based on the evidence I’ve seen. Lindsey Graham did a good job in getting that out. We know that they not only knew that there wasn’t a case, but they continued to investigate and spy.”

Internal FBI documents that emerged in April showed that Peter Strzok — the now-disgraced anti-Trump former head of FBI counterintelligence — ordered the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to remain open even after it was slated to be closed due to a lack of so-called “derogatory” information. Strzok pursued an investigation based on the Logan Act, a law never used in a successful prosecution and that was intended to prevent individuals from falsely representing the U.S. government abroad in a pre-telephone era. “And yes, I use the word spy on Trump campaign officials and actually even doing things when this president was sworn in,” Meadows continued. “And after that and doing in an inappropriate manner, you’re going to see a couple of other documents come out in the coming days that will suggest that not only was the campaign spied on, but the FBI did not act appropriately as they were investigating. It’s all starting to come unraveled. And I tell you, it’s time that people go to jail and people are indicted.”

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RussiaRussia every day. We mustn’t forget it.

BBC’s Andrew Marr Suggests Scottish Independence Is A Russian Plot (Nat.)

In the latest bizarre series of rumours from Unionists, Andrew Marr has suggested that Scottish independence is a Russian plot. Marr asked Russian Ambassador Andrey Vladimirovich Kelin if he is “interested in the cause of Scottish nationalism” in an interview on his show. Kelin replied: “Our interest in Scotland is only one. We are open for business.” Marr said: “The reason I ask is that there are many people in this Government and the Conservative party at least, who feel that Russia is enthusiastic about breaking up the UK.”


That’s despite the Tories receiving £3.5 million from Russian donors, according to an invesigation in The Ferrett in November last year. It comes as a report is expected to reveal that Russian interference may have influenced the Brexit and independence referendums. The Russia report by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), released on Tuesday, is expected to raise concerns about Moscow’s interference in aspects of Scottish politics. The development comes just days after Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, revealed that Russian “actors” were highly likely to have interfered in December’s General Election.

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Jul 152020
 


Gas prices, Roosevelt and Wabash, Chicago 1939

 

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU (SCMP)
US Base On Japan’s Okinawa Confirms 36 More Coronavirus Cases (R.)
Fundamentally Unsound (Hussman)
‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash In Children Being Born (BBC)
I Still Believe This Will Be #Ourfinesthour (Ben Hunt)
Bari Weiss: Twitter is Editing the New York Times (ZH)
Eric Weinstein Takes Flamethrower To New York Times (ZH)
Banks Stand To Make $18 Billion In PPP Processing Fees From CARES Act (IC)
Trump Ends Preferential Status For Hong Kong, China Vows Retaliation (R.)
Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations Top 350 Planes In First Half Of 2020 (R.)
Qantas Cancels All International Flights Until March 2021 (ZH)
US Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace (WS)
Judge Rejects $18.9 Million Harvey Weinstein Sex Abuse Settlement (R.)
Damage to the Soul (Craig Murray)

 

 

We seem to have stopped setting new daily records for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tapper

Sessions

 

 

And why not? Let’s make it more confusing, why don’t we? Most if not all vaccine trials are based on observing increased antibodies.

Study Sees Harmful Effect Of Coronavirus Antibodies In ICU (SCMP)

Antibodies generated by the immune system to neutralise the novel coronavirus could cause severe harm or even kill the patient, according to a study by Dutch scientists. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) is a fork-shaped molecule produced by adaptive immune cells to intercept foreign invaders. Each type of IgG targets a specific type of pathogen. The IgG for Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, fights off the virus by binding with the virus’ unique spike protein to reduce its chance of infecting human cells. They usually appear a week or two after the onset of illness, when the symptoms of most critically-ill patients suddenly get worse.

A research team led by Professor Menno de Winther from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands said they might have found an important clue that may answer why the IgG appears only when patients are ill enough to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The scientists found that the blood from Covid-19 patients struggling for their life on ventilators was highly inflammatory. They observed during a series of experiments that it could trigger an overreaction of the immune system, destroy crucial barriers in tissues and cause water and blood to spill over in the lungs. When Winther and his colleagues compared the blood from Covid-19 patients to those battling other diseases in the ICU, they discovered that Covid-19 patients had a disproportionately large amount of Sars-CoV-2-specific IgG.

These antibodies “strongly amplify pro-inflammatory response”, they said in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted on preprint platform bioRxiv.org on Monday. When Winther applied the pure form of these antibodies directly to healthy blood and tissue cells, nothing happened. But when combined with a giant immune cell called macrophage, which forms when the body senses an infection, the IgGs caused the macrophages to implode, releasing a large amount of inflammatory molecules known as cytokines, causing “striking” destruction, said the researchers.

[..] A Chinese government epidemiologist based in Shanghai said the Dutch paper confirmed “what we suspected for a long time”. Several studies from China have also found the destructive role played by the macrophages in severely ill patients and proposed potential drugs that could suppress the cytokine storm. But the roles of antibodies could be more complex than what have been described, according to the researcher. For instance, it remains unclear whether vaccine-induced antibodies, which are supposed to contain some highly specific neutralising IgGs, will have the same effect in the very early stage of infection.

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“36 more COVID-19 cases among U.S. military in #OccupiedOkinawa, bringing the current total to 136. This gives the U.S. military a COVID-19 rate 200 times larger than Okinawa Prefecture.”

US Base On Japan’s Okinawa Confirms 36 More Coronavirus Cases (R.)

Authorities have confirmed 36 more coronavirus infections at Camp Hansen on Japan’s Okinawa, taking to 136 the tally at U.S. military bases on the island, Kyodo News said on Wednesday. The outbreak emerged at the weekend, provoking the anger of the prefecture’s governor, who has called into question the U.S. military’s virus prevention measures.

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Small part of a seemingly endless investor piece.

Fundamentally Unsound (Hussman)

My impression is that while the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 is likely due to accessory proteins of the virus that knock down respiratory defenses, the lethality of COVID-19 (the resulting disease) is largely due to infiltration and retention of highly inflammatory blood cells into lung tissue, that then degrade, perforate, and cross through the alveolar-capillary barrier. The result is cell damage to alveoli (the air sacs that the lungs use to exchange oxygen with the blood) and to vascular linings, so that fatality is driven by the combination of oxygen deprivation and thrombosis. This is not the flu. In recent weeks, we’ve seen rapid outbreaks in Florida, Texas, and several other states, largely in the same places where protective measures like distancing and masks were disregarded. This isn’t really a “second wave.” It’s more like the start-stop profile of local outbreaks that was predictable even in February.

The only surprise is that it has involved entire states, because somehow, well-understood features of epidemiology and cell biology have become subjects of wildly ignorant political debate. Having written on the urgency of containment beginning on February 2, when the U.S. had only 5 cases and zero deaths, watching this predictable, slow motion train wreck has been excruciating. It is increasingly clear that the primary mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2 is exhaled air from infected individuals. There’s some evidence that toilet bowls and hospital floors also act as reservoirs for expelled viral particles, but unless you’re regularly sticking your hands into toilet bowls or wiping them on hospital floors, the most likely way to acquire the virus is from expelled air.

The half-life of suspended (“aerosolized”) particles in a room without much ventilation is over an hour, and while some masks clearly provide better filtration than others, even cloth and bandana-type masks substantially reduce the number and distance of expelled particles. So even the crudest mask will reduce the viral load to others. A good analysis of a super-spreading event in Washington State at a Skagit Valley Chorale rehearsal concluded, “the risk of infection is modulated by ventilation conditions, occupant density, and duration of shared presence with an infectious individual.” Exactly. Yet even taking basic protective measures for oneself and others seems to be a problem. When people imagine that not wearing a mask in an indoor public place is somehow an expression of their “individual freedom,” or that it’s “hurting the economy,” they’re not only endangering everyone else – they’re also ensuring that much more stringent measures will be necessary later in order to avoid mass fatalities.

It’s exactly the weak, dismissive response – especially early on, but then encouraged almost daily – that has put U.S. fatalities ahead of every other country on Earth. Indeed, researchers at Harvard recently estimated that “Between 70% and 99% of the Americans who died from this pandemic might have been saved by measures demonstrated by others to have been feasible.” Meanwhile, across 22 countries, there’s an 80% correlation between non-wearing of masks and number of deaths-per-million. That correlation is higher than for the percentage of elderly and the percentage with high body-mass index. Containment measures are critical when and where transmission rates are high.

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A different world.

‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash In Children Being Born (BBC)

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers. Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born. The fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100. As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. [..] Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century. Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from 61 million to 28 million over the same timeframe.


They are two of 23 countries – which also include Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea – expected to see their population more than halve. “That is jaw-dropping,” Prof Christopher Murray told me. China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place. The UK is predicted to peak at 75 million in 2063, and fall to 71 million by 2100.

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“We the People? We the Pack.”

I Still Believe This Will Be #Ourfinesthour (Ben Hunt)

Back in early April, I wrote this about our battle with the coronavirus: “There is no country in the world that mobilizes for war more effectively than the United States. And I know you won’t believe me, but I tell you it is true: This will be #OurFinestHour.” Since then, our leaders have totally botched the Covid-19 war-fighting effort. I mean our leaders at every level of government and of every political stripe, and I mean that it has been spectacularly botched. Covid-19 is now endemic within the United States, meaning that it is neither effectively contained nor effectively mitigated. Meaning that it is uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Meaning that tens of thousands of Americans get sick with this disease every day, and between 500 and 1,000 Americans die. Every day.

It didn’t have to be this way. As I write this note, Germany – a large country with a federal political system and the 4th largest economy in the world – is reporting two Covid-19 deaths today. Two. Japan – an even larger country and even larger economy – is reporting one Covid-19 death today. One. But here’s the thing. Yes, our political leaders have been a horror show. God knows I’ve been railing about them for months. But there’s another awful truth at work here. We the people have failed our nation more than the politicians. In fact, I honestly don’t believe we still have a nation. We have a country, of course, but that’s just an administrative thing … here are the borders, here is your social security number, here are the rules for how we do things.

A nation is both less than a country and much, much more. A nation is the meaning of a country. A nation is the embodiment of We the People. It’s not that I think being an American has no meaning. It has a lot of meaning to me. It has a lot of meaning to many people. It has some meaning to almost everyone. It’s that being an American no longer has a shared meaning. [..] I knew that high-functioning sociopath politicians would continue to do their high-functioning sociopath thing, where with one hand they pump out culture-porn telling us that what really matters is our attitude towards Goya beans or Columbus statues, and with the other hand they pump out TRILLIONS of dollars into a money-laundering scheme we like to call “monetary policy”. All while MILLIONS of Americans are getting sick and MILLIONS of Americans are out of a job and TENS OF THOUSANDS of Americans are dead. I just never thought we would embrace this evil – and that’s what it is – in our heart of hearts.

Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

That’s from a poem by Rudyard Kipling. I know he’s been canceled, but I don’t care. I think he’s great.

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I don’t read the New York Times, and don’t know Bari Weiss. From what I see, I don’t believe Weiss is the finest person on the planet. But she confirms why I don’t read the NYT. In early 2016 I noticed them posting 10 mostly flimsy anti-Trump pieces a day, and I thought: I don’t like Trump, but I don’t need you to make up my mind for me, and that’s what you want to do. Question though: why did it take her another 4.5 years?

Bari Weiss: Twitter is Editing the New York Times (ZH)

The internal schism at the New York Times has claimed yet another staffer, as opinion editor Bari Weiss has left the paper and penned a scorching resignation letter denouncing the Times as nothing more than an echo chamber for ‘woke’ activists masquerading as journalists who believe dissent has no place on the platform. “But the lessons that ought to have followed the election—lessons about the importance of understanding other Americans, the necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society—have not been learned. Instead, a new consensus has emerged in the press, but perhaps especially at this paper: that truth isn’t a process of collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else”. -Bari Weiss

As a refresher, the Times newsroom erupted in chaos following the decision to publish an Op-Ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), in which he suggested that the Trump administration should deploy the military to quell violent race-riots gripping the country following the death of a black suspect while in custody of Minneapolis police. An internal schism formed within the Times, with younger ‘woke’ staffers insisting that such ‘wrongthink’ has no place on the platform, while others defended the decision to publish Cotton’s divergent opinion. In the end, the woke mob won; the Times added an editor’s note conveying regret for publishing it – which was accompanied by the resignation of editorial page editor James Bennett (who Weiss writes ‘led the effort’ to reform the paper after the 2016 election).

Which brings us back to Bari Weiss, who came under intense fire by her NYT colleagues after she laid out what was going on in the newsroom in a Twitter thread, which ultimately defended the decision to publish Cotton’s op-ed. In her Tuesday resignation letter, Weiss excoriated the Times. “My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m “writing about the Jews again.” Several colleagues perceived to be friendly with me were badgered by coworkers. My work and my character are openly demeaned on company-wide Slack channels where masthead editors regularly weigh in. There, some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly “inclusive” one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.” -Bari Weiss

Weiss described the Times as a hostile work environment, and slammed the paper for allowing “this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public.” “Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery,” Weiss writes, adding “But the truth is that intellectual curiosity—let alone risk-taking—is now a liability at The Times.” “Why edit something challenging to our readers, or write something bold only to go through the numbing process of making it ideologically kosher, when we can assure ourselves of job security (and clicks) by publishing our 4000th op-ed arguing that Donald Trump is a unique danger to the country and the world? And so self-censorship has become the norm.

What rules that remain at The Times are applied with extreme selectivity. If a person’s ideology is in keeping with the new orthodoxy, they and their work remain unscrutinized. Everyone else lives in fear of the digital thunderdome. Online venom is excused so long as it is directed at the proper targets.”

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“That is obviously true but I’m sorry we can’t say that here. It will get me strung up.”

Eric Weinstein Takes Flamethrower To New York Times (ZH)

Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital and host of The Portal podcast, has gone scorched earth on the New York Times following the Tuesday resignation of journalist Bari Weiss. Weinstein describes how The Times has morphed into an activist rag – refusing to cover “news” unpaletable to their narrative, while ignoring key questions such as whether Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring was “intelligence related.”

“At that moment Bari Weiss became all that was left of the “Paper of Record.” Why? Because the existence of Black Racists with the power to hunt professors with Baseball Bats and even redefine the word ‘racism’ to make their story impossible to cover ran totally counter-narrative. At some point after 2011, the NYT gradually stopped covering the News and became the News instead. And Bari has been fighting internally from the opinion section to re-establish Journalism inside tbe the NYT. A total reversal of the Chinese Wall that separates news from opinion. This is the paper in 2016 that couldnt be interested in the story that millions of Americans were likely lying to pollsters about Donald Trump. The paper refusing to ask the CIA/FBI if Epstein was Intelligence related.

I have had the honor of trying to support both @bariweiss at the New York Times and @BretWeinstein in their battles simply to stand alone against the internal mob mentality. It is THE story all over the country. Our courageous individuals are being hunted at work for dissenting. Before Bari resigned, I did a podcast with her. It was chilling. I‘d make an innocuous statement of simple fact and ask her about it. She‘d reply “That is obviously true but I’m sorry we can’t say that here. It will get me strung up.” That‘s when I stopped telling her to hang on. So what just happened? Let me put it bluntly: What was left of the New York Times just resigned from the New York Times. The Times canceled itself.

As a separate Hong Kong exists in name only, the New New York Times and affiliated “news” is now the chief threat to our democracy. This is the moment when the passengers who have been becoming increasingly alarmed, start to entertain a new idea: what if the people now in the cockpit are not airline pilots? Well the Twitter Activists at the @nytimes and elsewhere are not journalists. What if those calling for empathy have a specific deadness of empathy? Those calling for justice *are* the unjust? Those calling “Privilege” are the privileged? Those calling for equality seek to oppress us? Those anti-racists are open racists? The progressives seek regress? The journalists are covering up the news?

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Anyone surprised?

Banks Stand To Make $18 Billion In PPP Processing Fees From CARES Act (IC)

Banks will make out with $18 billion in fees for processing small business Paycheck Protection Program relief loans during the pandemic, according to calculations by Amanda Fischer, policy director at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive economic think tank. That’s money taken directly out of the overall $640 billion pot of funding Congress allocated to the program it created as part of the CARES Act. “If we did it through a public institution, there would be [more than] $140 billion left,” Fischer noted, as opposed to the $130 billion still up for grabs. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is releasing an analysis of the government response to the pandemic as soon as this week.

The fees compensate the banks for some of the costs that come with processing loans — call center time to handle business owners’ questions, employee hours spent on processing paperwork for both loan and forgiveness applications — and some of the risk they shoulder if any of the loans they extend end up being fraudulent. But there is no credit risk; if business owners who qualified for PPP loans later default, the Small Business Association takes the hit, not the banks. “Basically it’s free money,” Fischer said. For some banks, this money represents a hefty windfall. New Jersey-based Cross River Bank’s estimated $163 million haul would be more than double its net revenue last year. JPMorgan Chase could make $864 million.

The fact that banks are siphoning money off of the relief program is thanks to the fact that the United States had no existing public infrastructure ready to quickly get money out to struggling businesses when the pandemic hit. Fischer characterized it as “a failure of preparedness,” adding, “We should have invested in better systems.” The Small Business Association, which is running the PPP program, has long been criticized for struggling to process emergency relief quickly during past natural disasters. So when the time came to respond to the coronavirus crisis as fast as possible, the SBA was in no position to do it itself, and Congress mandated that the loans be run through banks instead. There weren’t many other options. “It’s hard to build the plane while you’re flying it,” Fischer said.

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Preferential Status for Hong Kong now equals Preferential Status for China. The US doesn’t have much choice.

It was also fun to read that the WHO team will NOT visit the Wuhan lab.

Trump Ends Preferential Status For Hong Kong, China Vows Retaliation (R.)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law to punish China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the former British colony, prompting Beijing to warn of retaliatory sanctions. Citing China’s decision to enact a new national security law for Hong Kong, Trump signed an executive order that he said would end the preferential economic treatment for the city. “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” he told a news conference. Acting on a Tuesday deadline, he also signed a bill approved by the U.S. Congress to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the new security law.


“Today I signed legislation, and an executive order to hold China accountable for its aggressive actions against the people of Hong Kong, Trump said. “Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he added. Under the executive order, U.S. property would be blocked of any person determined to be responsible for or complicit in “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Hong Kong,” according to the text of the document released by the White House. It also directs officials to “revoke license exceptions for exports to Hong Kong,” and includes revoking special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.

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A 737 MAX costs $110 million a piece.

Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations Top 350 Planes In First Half Of 2020 (R.)

Boeing customers canceled orders for 355 of its 737 MAX jets in the first half of 2020, the U.S. planemaker said on Tuesday, as the damage done by the jet’s grounding and the coronavirus crisis to the airline industry continued to mount. The planemaker, which has now been striving to get its once best-selling MAX planes back in the air for more than a year after two fatal crashes led to its grounding, said airlines and leasing companies canceled another 60 orders for the jet last month. Deliveries in the first half of the year also sank by 71% to just 70 planes as customers canceled or deferred shipments due to the collapse in air travel from coronavirus-led travel restrictions.


Deliveries are financially important to planemakers because airlines pay most of the purchase price when they actually receive the aircraft. Boeing said it handed over 10 aircraft in June, up from four planes in May, and six jets in April. [..] After adjusting for jets ordered in previous years but unlikely to be delivered currently, Boeing has now lost 784 net orders this year, rising from a loss of 602 net orders as of May end.

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Since Rainman, Qantas has been known for its safety.

Qantas Cancels All International Flights Until March 2021 (ZH)

The prospects for a V-shaped recovery in airlines are looking dim. The latest indication of how slow things are getting back to normal in the industry is Australian-based Qantas Airlines pulling all of its international flights off its website this week. The airline is cancelling routes to New Zealand until September 1 and flights to other international destinations have been cancelled until March 28, 2021 – nearly another year away – according to the Daily Mail. “All international and sale flights have been removed from the website until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic,” a spokesperson for the airline said. “There are some international flights in the system but they are not currently operating.”

Flights are still available through the airline’s partner airlines like Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. But Qantas wants to prevent new bookings from being made on its own airline. Flights that have already been booked will proceed as planned. The move comes weeks after the airline cut 6,000 jobs, representing 20% of its workforce. The company’s CEO has also predicted that international flights wouldn’t resume until July 2021. “We have never experienced anything like this before – no-one has. All airlines are in the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced,” he said last month. “Revenues have collapsed, entire fleets are grounded and the world biggest carriers are taking extreme action just to survive.”

The decision to halt international flights comes after the airline’s decision to also ground its double decker A380 planes for at least three years and to retire six Boeing 747s. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in June that Australia’s borders would probably remain closed for another 4 months.

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US housing is under serious threat. That’s a serious theat to the entire banking system. Which will be bailed out.

US Mortgage Delinquencies Suddenly Soar at Record Pace (WS)

OK, it’s actually worse. Mortgages that are in forbearance and have not missed a payment before going into forbearance don’t count as delinquent. They’re reported as “current.” And 8.2% of all mortgages in the US – or 4.1 million loans – are currently in forbearance, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But if they did not miss a payment before entering forbearance, they don’t count in the suddenly spiking delinquency data. The onslaught of delinquencies came suddenly in April, according to CoreLogic, a property data and analytics company (owner of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index), which released its monthly Loan Performance Insights today. And it came after 27 months in a row of declining delinquency rates. These delinquency rates move in stages – and the early stages are now getting hit:

Transition from “Current” to 30-days past due: In April, the share of all mortgages that were past due, but less than 30 days, soared to 3.4% of all mortgages, the highest in the data going back to 1999. This was up from 0.7% in April last year. During the Housing Bust, this rate peaked in November 2008 at 2%: From 30 to 59 days past due: The rate of these early delinquencies soared to 4.2% of all mortgages, the highest in the data going back to 1999. This was up from 1.7% in April last year. From 60 to 89 days past due: As of April, this stage had not yet been impacted, with the rate remaining relatively low at 0.7% (up from 0.6% in April last year). This stage will jump in the report to be released a month from now when today’s 30-to-59-day delinquencies, that haven’t been cured by then, move into this stage.


Serious delinquencies, 90 days or more past due, including loans in foreclosure: As of April, this stage had not been impacted, and the rate ticked down to 1.2% (from 1.3% in April a year ago). We should see the rate rise in two months and further out. Overall delinquency rate, 30-plus days, jumped to 6.1%, up from 3.6% in April last year. This was the highest overall delinquency rate since January 2016 (on the way down). These delinquency rates are the first real impact seen on the housing market by the worst employment crisis in a lifetime, with over 32 million people claiming state or federal unemployment benefits. There is no way – despite rumors to the contrary – that a housing market sails unscathed through that kind of employment crisis.

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How sick is that US “justice system”? “..it would leave Weinstein’s victims with typical awards of just US$10,000 to US$20,000, while setting aside US$15.2 million for defence costs..”

Judge Rejects $18.9 Million Harvey Weinstein Sex Abuse Settlement (R.)

A US judge on Tuesday rejected a proposed US$18.9 million civil settlement for women who claimed they were subjected to sexual abuse and workplace harassment by the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan said the preliminary settlement would be unfair to women who Weinstein raped or sexually abused, because it treated them no different from women who had merely met him. He also criticised a plan to set aside money to help Weinstein and the board of his former studio pay defence costs. “The idea that Harvey Weinstein could get a defence fund ahead of the plaintiffs is obnoxious,” Hellerstein said at a hearing.


A settlement would have resolved class-action litigation by Weinstein accusers, and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit accusing Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein and their bankrupt Weinstein Co of maintaining a hostile work environment. Elizabeth Fegan, a lawyer representing nine Weinstein accusers, had argued that “all of the women were in the zone of danger” created by Weinstein, justifying class-action treatment. [..] James’ office will review the decision. “Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue,” a spokeswoman said. The settlement drew objections from women who said it would leave Weinstein’s victims with typical awards of just US$10,000 to US$20,000, while setting aside US$15.2 million for defence costs. Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer representing six objectors, said he was pleased Hellerstein “swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal.”

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Talk about a sick justice system.

The format of Craig’s article is a bit hard to rhyme with that of the Debt Rattle. I tried. Do read the whole thing.

‘To have extradition decided on the merits of one indictment when the accused actually faces another is an outrage. To change the indictment long after the hearing is underway and defence evidence has been seen is an outrage. The lack of media outrage is an outrage.’

Damage to the Soul (Craig Murray)

In a truly extraordinary twist, Assange is now being extradited on the basis of an indictment served in the UK, which is substantially different to the actual indictment he now faces in Virginia if extradited. The Assange hearing was adjourned after its first full week, and its resumption has since been delayed by coronavirus. In that first full week, both the prosecution and the defence outlined their legal arguments over the indictment. [..] this is about switching to charges firmly grounded in “hacking”, rather than in publishing leaks about appalling American war crimes. The new indictment is based on the evidence of a “supergrass”, Sigurdur Thordarson, who was acting a a paid informant to the FBI during his contact with Wikileaks.

Thordarson is fond of money and is a serial criminal. He was convicted on 22 December 2014 by Reykjanes District Court in Iceland of stealing over US $40,000 and over 13,000 euro from Wikileaks “Sunshine Press” accounts by forging documents in the name of Julian Assange, and given a two year jail sentence. Thordarson is also a convicted sex offender, and was convicted after being turned in to the police by Julian Assange, who found the evidence – including of offences involving a minor – on Thordarson’s computer. There appears scope to doubt the motives and credentials of the FBI’s supergrass. The FBI have had Thordarson’s “Evidence” against Assange since long before the closing date for submissions in the extradition hearing, which was June 19th 2019.


That they now feel the need to deploy this rather desperate stuff is a good sign of how they feel the extradition hearing has gone so far, as an indicator of the prospects of a successful prosecution in the USA. [..] Then, to our amazement, the prosecution did not put forward the new indictment at the procedural hearing at all. To avoid these problems, it appears they are content to allow the extradition hearing to go ahead on the old indictment, when that is not in fact the indictment which awaits Assange in the United States. This is utterly outrageous. The prosecution will argue that the actual espionage charges themselves have not changed. But it is the indictment which forms the basis of the extradition hearing and the different indictment which would form the basis of any US prosecution.

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Berenice Abbott Murray Hill Hotel, New York 1935

 

Trump Commutes Roger Stone’s Sentence (Hill)
Blood Clots Found In ‘Almost Every Organ’ Of COVID Victims (NZH)
Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical (EM)
The Risk-Free Upsides For China In The WHO’s Coronavirus Origin Quest (SCMP)
Ghislaine Maxwell Wants Bail Release Due To ‘Unprecedented’ COVID19 Risks (G.)
Catholic Church Lobbied For Taxpayer Funds, Got $3.5 Billion (AP)
Now What? (Jim Kunstler)
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice (CP)
American Airlines Tells Boeing: No Financing, No 737 MAX Deliveries (CNBC)
NYPD Limits Retirement Applications Amid 400% Surge This Week (NYP)
Erdogan Declares Hagia Sophia A Mosque After Turkish Court Ruling (R.)

 

 

Like the election of Donald Trump is the perfect symbol for what America has become, Roger Stone is the embodiment of Washington DC. There must be so much to be found out there if they want to go after him. But it’s not about him. Stone made the mistake of bragging about his links to Wikileaks, which he never had. If not for that, they would have left him alone.

That link was needed because from Wikileaks Robert Mueller could get to Russia on the entirely fabricated claims of connections Julian Assange was alleged to have had to Russian hackers (DNC files). Mueller’s investigation ended in absolute and embarrassing failure, and zero evidence, but what he could leave standing, because they could not defend themselves, were accusations against Assange and “13 Russians”.

Mueller chose that route. Which is why I have called him a coward and a liar.

I was reading earlier about the insane pre-dawn FBI raid on Stone’s home, executed by an entire army of agents, and including even helicopters. While they could have simply rung his doorbell. No love lost here for the man, but yeah, let him be.

 

 

Another round of new records all over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Hunt

 

 

Commuted, nor pardoned, in order for Stone to be able to fight on in court,

Trump Commutes Roger Stone’s Sentence (Hill)

President Trump on Friday commuted the prison sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone after the former campaign adviser was sentenced to three years and four months in prison in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The decision capped a months-long saga that has roiled the Justice Department and divided some of the president’s advisers. Stone was set to report to prison July 14, but his allies had lobbied for a pardon or a commutation, citing his risk of contracting coronavirus while in jail. The move Friday did not come as a particular surprise, as Trump had at various points in recent months signaled he was leaning toward intervening in Stone’s case. Trump told reporters he was considering a commutation or pardon for Stone as the date he was scheduled to report to prison loomed.

The announcement from the White House came roughly an hour after an appeals court denied Stone’s motion to delay the start of his prison term, scheduled to begin Tuesday. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement Friday evening describing Stone as “a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.” McEnany said that Trump had signed an executive grant of clemency commuting his “unjust” sentence. Trump has regularly railed against the prosecutors involved in the case, singled out the Obama-appointed federal judge overseeing the trial for criticism and complained that the conservative provocateur was the victim of a “ridiculous” process.

Stone, who has maintained his innocence and tried to appeal his conviction, was the last of six Trump associates to be charged in connection with Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia that dogged the president’s first two years in office. Mueller did not find evidence to charge Trump campaign associates with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, but found that the campaign welcomed Moscow’s interference efforts. Justice Department leadership moved to reduce Stone’s sentencing recommendation in February in a highly controversial move, leading all four career prosecutors working on his case to quit. Stone was convicted in November by a jury in Washington, D.C., of all counts he was charged with, including lying to Congress in connection with its separate investigation into Russian interference, witness tampering and obstructing an official proceeding.

McEnany argued Friday that Stone was charged with “alleged crimes” arising “solely” from Mueller’s “improper” investigation and that the GOP operative’s imprisonment would put him at “serious medical risk.” However, she said that Trump did not want to “interfere” with Stone’s efforts to appeal his conviction, meaning that those efforts will move forward and his conviction will stand. “Roger Stone has already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

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It’s the blood, not the lungs.

Blood Clots Found In ‘Almost Every Organ’ Of COVID Victims (NZH)

Doctors have revealed fresh details on the terrible toll taken on the body by Covid-19, releasing the results of autopsies of those who have died in the pandemic. In a study published in The Lancet journal EClinicalMedicine, Dr Amy Rapkiewicz, the chair of the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Medical Centre, showed the role played by blood clots in the progression of the disease. Describing how scientists found clotting in tiny blood vessels throughout the body, Rapkiewicz told CNN the findings were “dramatic”. “Because though we might have expected it in the lungs, we found it in almost every organ that we looked at in our autopsy study.” The autopsies also showed the extensive presence of megakaryocytes, large bone marrow cells that don’t usually appear outside the lungs and bones.


“We found them in the heart and the kidneys and the liver and other organs,” Rapkiewicz said. “Notably in the heart, megakaryocytes produce something called platelets that are intimately involved in blood clotting.” “I could not remember a case before where we saw that,” Rapkiewicz told the Washington Post. “It was remarkable they were in the heart.” Speaking to TCTMD, Rapkiewicz said it is “a very interesting observation that seems to be consistent across multiple Covid cases.” Noting that Covid’s effect on blood clotting is at the opposite end of the spectrum from other killer viruses such as ebola, Rapkiewicz said researchers need to be diligent and “learn from our history” and explore what is known about other contagious diseases that affect the body’s coagulation systems.

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Mortality vs Morbidity. The Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY) and its sister statistic, the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY).

Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical (EM)

At the moment, official record-keeping offers only three options when it comes to Covid-19: infection, recovery, or death. This misses a broad range of other potential outcomes for people who catch the virus — many of them bad. In medicine, physicians talk about “M&M,” or “Mortality and Morbidity.” Many hospitals even hold closed-door “M&M” conferences, where their providers discuss everything that’s gone wrong with their patients over the last week or month. Mortality is a pretty straightforward concept. Have patients died from a particular disease process, and if so, how? Were their deaths avoidable? Can the field of medicine learn anything from them which will improve patient care in the future?

Morbidity, though, is a much trickier concept. It includes the complications, health issues, and other negative outcomes (other than death) that a disease causes. Basically, it’s all the ways that a disease can make you unwell, even if it doesn’t actually kill you. Official statistics capture deaths that occur from Covid-19 reasonably well. Reporting methods are often updated, and epidemiologists have gone back and attempted to quantify Covid-19 deaths that were originally missed. But overall, death counts are a relatively easy metric to apply. Patients are either alive or dead. Knowing the difference is comparatively simple. But these official statistics miss quite a lot. Specifically, they fail to represent Covid-19 morbidity — the harm that the disease causes, even in people that it doesn’t kill.

In terms of measuring the long-term impact of the disease — and accurately evaluating risk — that’s a big problem. Mounting evidence shows that even if Covid-19 kills less than 1% of patients, it doesn’t necessarily leave the others it infects unharmed. Even those who have “recovered” may have long-term impacts from it. Morbidity can happen over a long-term period, so it is a harder variable to study and track in the early stages of a pandemic than death. Anecdotal reports and early data, though, show that Covid-19 morbidity may be a very real concern. According to a report in The Atlantic which followed several people with Covid-19 over multiple months, many had long-lasting symptoms and impairments (including headaches and debilitating fatigue) that didn’t resolve when their active infection stopped.

All of these cases were considered “mild” and didn’t result in the use of a ventilator or a stay in the ICU. And they occurred in people from a variety of age groups, not only older adults and the infirm. Yet despite these “low risk” factors, patients were still experiencing major impacts from the disease months after contracting it. A handful of studies about Covid-19 (as well as scholarship on previous coronaviruses) bears this out. Covid-19 infection can have long-term impacts on the lungs, heart, immune system, and even the brain. These include an increased risk for heart attacks, future respiratory infections (including more severe cases of flu), and neurological impacts like cognitive impairment.

[..] As risk professionals like Nassim Nicholas Taleb have pointed out, the failure to measure Covid-19 morbidity makes it far harder to evaluate the true risk from the pandemic. Simply looking at deaths is not enough. Mortality statistics fail to account for the people who survive the disease but suffer long-term harm — or those who die from its complications long after their initial infection has subsided. This blindness to morbidity may push populations toward more aggressive reopening, or away from risk-reduction measures like mandating face coverings. If deaths are declining, the picture may appear rosy. But in reality, the disease may be causing irreparable harm to millions of people — just in a way that’s invisible in current statistics.

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How much control do they really have? Are they sending their best people?

The Risk-Free Upsides For China In The WHO’s Coronavirus Origin Quest (SCMP)

China’s decision to allow in a WHO-led coronavirus investigation could offer a risk-free boost to its reputation and help to find an answer to a big question – how the disease began. That was the assessment of health specialists, who said the answers were needed to prevent future outbreaks. Two World Health Organisation experts, an animal health specialist and an epidemiologist, are expected to arrive in Beijing this weekend to meet Chinese scientists and doctors to discuss the terms of a WHO-led mission to trace the origin of the coronavirus. China agreed to the mission after a resolution passed unanimously in May at the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s governing body, calling for the WHO to work to identify the virus’ animal source.

Countries like Australia and the United States had previously led a call for a broader investigation into China’s handling of the outbreak, which was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Sara Davies, an international relations professor specialising in global health governance at Griffith University in Australia, said China might have given approval because WHO officials were clear that the investigation was not about laying blame. “This is a scientific investigation, and that is a deliberate attempt to establish a clear marker that this is not about fault. It’s not the type of investigation that Australia and others were proposing earlier this year,” Davies said. The message was underlined earlier this week when Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stressed that the search for the origin would not just be in China.

Zhao said China had reached a “fundamental consensus” with the WHO that tracing the source of the disease should take place around the globe, a process that the WHO suggested would be ongoing and involve many countries. Wang Huiyao, president of the Centre for China and Globalisation, said China was honouring its promise to allow a WHO-led investigation when domestic outbreaks were under control. Wang added that China would benefit by addressing persistent claims about the pathogen’s origins. “There have been some doubts and rumours internationally, like the conspiracy theory concerning the laboratory in Wuhan. The investigation will help quash such rumours,” he said.

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So does Assange.

Ghislaine Maxwell Wants Bail Release Due To ‘Unprecedented’ COVID19 Risks (G.)

Ghislaine Maxwell should be released on bail while awaiting trial for her alleged involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s child sex trafficking ring because of “the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on detained defendants”, the British socialite’s lawyers argued in Manhattan federal court papers filed on Friday. Maxwell, 58, was arrested on 2 July at her Bradford, New Hampshire, home. She faces up to 35 years in federal prison if convicted. Her lawyers insisted that Maxwell is not a flight risk, and said she is trying to keep a low profile amid unrelenting “carnival-like” media scrutiny. “As this court has noted, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented health risk to incarcerated individuals, and Covid-19-related restrictions on attorney communications with pre-trial detainees significantly impair a defendant’s ability to prepare her defense,” Maxwell’s lawyers claimed in their bail argument.

“Simply put, under these circumstances, if Ms Maxwell continues to be detained, her health will be at serious risk and she will not be able to receive a fair trial.” Maxwell’s legal team proposed several bail conditions, including a $5m personal recognizance bond co-signed by six financially responsible people, backed by property in the UK worth over $3.75m. They also proposed limiting her travel to the New York City area, turning in all her travel documents, imposing home confinement in New York City with GPS monitoring, and restricting visitors to her immediate family, close friends and lawyers. A judge has set a hearing for Tuesday to hear bail arguments and to arraign Maxwell on multiple charges, including that she conspired to entice girls as young as 14 to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein from 1994 through 1997 at his homes in New York City, Florida and New Mexico, and at Maxwell’s residence in London.

[..] “Ever since Epstein’s arrest, Ms Maxwell has been at the center of a crushing onslaught of press articles, television specials and social media posts painting her in the most damning light possible and prejudging her guilt. The sheer volume of media reporting mentioning Ms Maxwell is staggering,” her lawyers argued in the court papers. “The ‘open season’ declared on Ms Maxwell after Epstein’s death has come with an even darker cost – she has been the target of alarming physical threats, even death threats, and has had to hire security guards to ensure her safety. The media feeding frenzy, which has only intensified in recent months, has also deeply affected her family and friends,” they said. They said later that “Ms Maxwell will be at significant risk of contracting Covid-19 if she is detained, and she will not be able to meaningfully participate in the preparation of her defense due to the restrictions that have been placed on attorney visits and phone calls in light of the pandemic.”

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And here’s some more rich sex offenders.

“Catholic dioceses whose financial stress was due not simply to the pandemic, but also to recent payouts to victims of clergy sex abuse…”

Catholic Church Lobbied For Taxpayer Funds, Got $3.5 Billion (AP)

The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups. The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found. Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

But as the economy plummeted and jobless rates soared, Congress let faith groups and other nonprofits tap into the Paycheck Protection Program, a $659 billion fund created to keep Main Street open and Americans employed. By aggressively promoting the payroll program and marshaling resources to help affiliates navigate its shifting rules, Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools and other ministries have so far received approval for at least 3,500 forgivable loans, AP found. The Archdiocese of New York, for example, received 15 loans worth at least $28 million just for its top executive offices. Its iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue was approved for at least $1 million. In Orange County, California, where a sparkling glass cathedral estimated to cost over $70 million recently opened, diocesan officials working at the complex received four loans worth at least $3 million.

[..] There is no doubt that state shelter-in-place orders disrupted houses of worship and businesses alike. Masses were canceled, even during the Holy Week and Easter holidays, depriving parishes of expected revenue and contributing to layoffs in some dioceses. Some families of Catholic school students are struggling to make tuition payments. And the expense of disinfecting classrooms once classes resume will put additional pressure on budgets. But other problems were self-inflicted. Long before the pandemic, scores of dioceses faced increasing financial pressure because of a dramatic rise in recent clergy sex abuse claims.

The scandals that erupted in 2018 reverberated throughout the world. Pope Francis ordered the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, to a life of “prayer and penance” following allegations he abused minors and adult seminarians. And a damning grand jury report about abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses revealed bishops had long covered for predator priests, spurring investigations in more than 20 other states. As the church again reckoned with its longtime crisis, abuse reports tripled during the year ending June 2019 to a total of nearly 4,500 nationally. Meanwhile, dioceses and religious orders shelled out $282 million that year — up from $106 million just five years earlier. Most of that went to settlements, in addition to legal fees and support for offending clergy.

Loan recipients included about 40 dioceses that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years paying victims through compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings. AP’s review found that these dioceses were approved for about $200 million, though the value is likely much higher.

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“..this bare ruin of a crooked old pol..”

Now What? (Jim Kunstler)

[..] the linchpin of Wokesterism: it’s Whitey’s fault. Whitey is racism incarnate. White Fragility makes redemption impossible. No amount of penance, apology, or remediation can fix it. Which raises another question: why even bother entertaining reparations for slavery? It will never be enough. Which may be exactly why the Woke Inquisition’s real aim is to undermine all of America’s institutions and then bust up the republic. The petulant “Resistance” that dug in after Hillary’s shocking 2016 election loss did the groundwork by enlisting the FBI, CIA, NSC, DOJ and other federal agencies into seditious intrigues that made the federal apparatus of justice look (and act) corrupt and untrustworthy.

Everything about the Mueller inquiry was an exercise in bad faith and perfidy, leaving the engines of official justice so broken that their misdeeds can barely be corrected, let alone prosecuted. To this day, the Lawfare cadres sponsor the continued persecution of General Michael Flynn, months after the DOJ formally dropped its case against him. Do you suppose these turpitudes don’t rankle the substantial number of citizens who still refuse to be driven insane by the Woke terror? And who is the figurehead leading this Democratic Woke party wrecking crew of coercion? The empty shell of Joe Biden, a bumbling senator turned grifting vice-president, now a mere hologram of a candidate.

The renewed campaign of Covid-19 hysteria in the Woke press may be just a psy-op to stuff poor Joe back in his basement and make sure he stays off public view. They took him out for a brief airing yesterday in Pennsylvania, a low-grade fiasco. In a formal speech, Mr. Biden said, “So today, I’m releasing a brewplint [sic] — I think the press had — how to create millions of good-paying union jobs, using Protestant technology [say what?] that we need now, and in the future.” Hmmm. Protestant technology? What could that be? Sounds like another one of Whitey’s endless tricks.

After the speech, some media cornered the candidate beside a campaign limo. He managed to decline taking any questions and waddled stiffly away, glassy-eyed, his hands strangely splayed like seal flippers (another symptom?). Who are they kidding with this pathetic wind-up mummy, this bare ruin of a crooked old pol? What treacherous game are they playing now? What’s next…?

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Excellent from Rob Urie.

The Russiagate allegations shifted attention away from rejection of the Democrat’s political program in 2016 so that they could run the same program again in 2020…

Democracy and the Illusion of Choice (CP)

[..] from the potential victory of a social democratic program five months ago, electoral choice is now between a right-wing demagogue and the chief architect of the carceral state, militarization of the police and liberal obeisance to capital. There is a connection between the Democrats three-plus years spent pushing the un/disproven Russiagate story and Joe Biden’s miraculous ascent as the establishment candidate in 2020. The Russiagate allegations shifted attention away from rejection of the Democrat’s political program in 2016 so that they could run the same program again in 2020. Amongst the political variables open for ‘discussion,’ the choice of candidate is all there is. The political program is determined at the intersection of campaign contributions, the needs and desires of capital, and the ids of oligarchs freed from public accountability. Democracy has nothing to do with it.

The ‘left’ argument for electing Joe Biden is as a placeholder, without precisely explaining how placeholding has supported the upward redistribution of political and economic power for four decades running. Donald Trump made himself known— seemingly to his political detriment, while five decades in public life left Joe Biden a political unknown who oversaw the writing of the 1994 Crime Bill and the Patriot Act, supported the misguided U.S. war against Iraq, and acted as collection agent for the credit card company MBNA. That both men represent the interests of capital and disjoint constituencies within the neoliberal order again suggests political guidance from outside of electoral politics.

This description is difficult for Democrats because they never took account of their loss in 2016. The stories they told themselves of foreign intrigue and racial backlash weren’t, and still aren’t, supported by the data. The Russiagate pillars have fallen one by one until nothing is left but tribal shorthand for aesthetic aversion to ‘Trump!’ Otherwise, the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has been the gold standard of ‘ascendance of hate’ reporting since the 2000s. Outside of its made-for-the-establishment-press headlines, the number of racist and neo-Nazi hate groups is falling.

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Barely an industry anymore.

American Airlines Tells Boeing: No Financing, No 737 MAX Deliveries (CNBC)

American Airlines executives have told Boeing they will not take delivery of 17 737 Max airplanes unless the carrier can secure financing to pay for the aircraft, people familiar with the discussions told CNBC. The 17 Max planes are already built, but will not be delivered until the Federal Aviation Administration recertifies the aircraft and removes a grounding order, which is expected to happen later this summer or by early fall. When the FAA grounded the Max in March 2019, it meant Boeing was not allowed to deliver the 17 Max planes it had built for American. During the 15 months since the grounding, the financing for some of the 737 Max planes expired, leaving them unfunded.

The situation means Boeing Capital, which is Boeing’s financing division, will have to find a way to arrange financing for those planes. This could involve Boeing Capital buying the planes and leasing them to American. Another possible scenario could involve third-party aircraft leasing companies financing the planes in question. While Boeing will not comment specifically on its discussions with American, or on any other order, the company told CNBC: “Our focus continues to be on working with global regulators on the rigorous process they have put in place to safely return the 737 MAX to commercial service. We are not going to comment on discussions with our customers. It is an unprecedented time for our industry as operators confront a steep drop in traffic.

“We continue to work closely with our customers to support their operations, while balancing supply and demand with the realities of the market.” American has already taken delivery of 24 Max planes, and has another 76 ordered with Boeing. The Wall Street Journal previously reported American executives have threatened to cancel some of its Max orders.

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Who wants the job?

NYPD Limits Retirement Applications Amid 400% Surge This Week (NYP)

New York’s Finest are putting in for retirement faster than the NYPD can handle — while citing a lack of respect and the loss of overtime pay, The Post has learned. A surge of city cops filing papers during the past week more than quadrupled last year’s number — as the city grapples with a surge of shootings — and the stampede caused a bottleneck that’s forcing others to delay putting in their papers, officials and sources said. The NYPD said Wednesday that 179 cops filed for retirement between June 29 and Monday, an astounding 411 percent increase over the 35 who filed during the same period in 2019. The astonishing rush for the door came as 503 cops filed for retirement between May 25 — the day George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, sparking anti-cop protests around the country — and July 3, the NYPD said.

That number represents a 75 percent increase over the 287 who filed for retirement during the same time last year, the NYPD said. Sources said the deluge of applications had overwhelmed the department — due to cancellation of overtime for the workers who process them — and that the number of daily applicants was being limited as a result. On Tuesday, The Post spotted a line of cops waiting outside the office at One Police Plaza where retirement papers get filed. “Apparently, the pension section is only taking a certain amount of people per day and I think they are backed up ’til late July, early August,” one cop said. “That’s why you don’t see like 100 a day, because they are only doing like 35 to 40 a day, by appointment.” A spokeswoman for the NYPD confirmed the “surge in the number of officers filing for retirement.”

“While the decision to retire is a personal one and can be attributed to a range of factors, it is a troubling trend that we are closely monitoring,” the spokesperson added. An NYPD spokeswoman noted that the department is not turning down any applications for officers retiring in the next 30 days — but has told cops putting in to retire after that to come back when a month out due to the increased activity. Sources blamed the situation — which comes amid an alarming spike in shootings — on growing anti-cop sentiment, coupled with a pending city law that would make it a crime for cops to use chokeholds while trying to subdue violent suspects. “There’s just droves and droves of people retiring. But there’s no surprise here, who the hell wants to stay on this job?” one cop said. “Why would you want to stay on this job when people don’t appreciate what you do?”

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Erdogan turns his back on Turkey’s founder Kemal Ataturk and reaches back to 15th century Ottoman empire.

“For those who don’t know, really near to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Turks built the Blue Mosque, which is newer and big enough for all the muslims in the area (and then some). Erdogan is just trying to provoke christians and show to muslims worldwide he is their leader.”

Erdogan Declares Hagia Sophia A Mosque After Turkish Court Ruling (R.)

President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia a mosque on Friday with the first Muslim prayers to begin in two weeks, after a top court ruled the ancient building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal. Erdogan spoke on Friday just hours after the court ruling was published, brushing aside international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument that is revered by Christians and Muslims alike. The United States, Russia and church leaders were among those to express concern about changing the status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a focal point of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of the most visited monuments in Turkey.

Greece’s culture ministry described the court decision as an “open provocation” to the civilized world, while UNESCO said it regretted it was not notified ahead of time and would now review the building’s status. Erdogan has sought to shift Islam into the mainstream of Turkish politics in his 17 years at the helm. He has long floated restoring the mosque status of the sixth-century building, which was converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. “With this court ruling, and with the measures we took in line with the decision, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again, after 86 years, in the way Fatih the conqueror of Istanbul had wanted it to be,” Erdogan said in a national address.


In a telling of history at times critical of the Byzantine Empire and the modern republic’s founders, Erdogan said Turkey could now leave behind “the curse of Allah, profits and angels” that Fatih – the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II – said would be on anyone who converted it from a mosque. “Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be open to all, locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Erdogan, who earlier on Friday signed off on the Religious Affairs Directorate managing the site.

Read more …

 

 

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Apr 292020
 


Gottscho-Schleisner Fulton Market pier, view to Manhattan over East River, NY April 20 1934

 

9 in 10 Americans Fear Economy Will Collapse During Coronavirus Shutdowns (WE)
50 Million Americans Have Lost Their Job In Past 6 Weeks (ZH)
China Could Have 50x More Coronavirus Cases Than Claimed – US Official (Fox)
China Embassy Accuses Australia Of ‘Petty Tricks’ In Coronavirus Dispute (R.)
A Fifth To Half Of All Coronavirus Deaths Have Been In Nursing Homes (JTN)
Experimental Trial Of Recombinant Human Interferon Alpha Nasal Drops (medRxiv)
Patients Who Survive COVID19 May Suffer Lasting Lung Damage (ScienceN)
More Than 100 Experts Call For ‘Aggressive Action Against COVID-19’ (Wsls)
Lithuanian Capital To Be Turned Into Vast Open-Air Cafe (G.)
Thousands Of British Workers Will Need To Gather The Harvest (R.)
Can Macy’s Get Through this Crisis and Stay Relevant? (WS)
Merkel Wants Green Recovery From Coronavirus Crisis (R.)
Trump Wants All US Troops Out Of Afghanistan Now Due To Coronavirus (ZH)
Amazon, Walmart Essential Workers Plan Unprecedented Strike (IC)
Boeing 737 MAX Expected To Remain Grounded Until At Least August (R.)
Steele Had Undisclosed Meetings With Lawyers For DNC, Clinton Campaign (DC)

 

 

People start blaming the economic damage on the lockdowns. Like such damage could have been prevented by letting the virus rule. Opinions differ.

 

• In a 24-hour period to 8:30 pm (0030 GMT), there were 2,207 additional US deaths, Johns Hopkins University says, after the daily deaths had fallen to around 1,300 on Sunday and Monday.
– 55,000 Americans died in the past month.

• The UK is:
– 5th in the world for coronavirus deaths
– 58th in the world for coronavirus tests conducted per million people

 

 

Numbers “temper” a little, but not by much. And there are some new kids on the block: Peru, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Singapore(!), Bangladesh and more.

 

Cases 3,149,233 (+ 69,132 from yesterday’s 3,080,101)

Deaths 218,385 (+ 6,120 from yesterday’s 212,265)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer – Among Closed Cases, Deaths have fallen to 18%

 

 

From SCMP: Note: SCMP has a new layout for its tracker.

 

 

From COVID19Info.live: Note: watch Peru, it’s rising fast.

 

 

 

 

That’s settled then.

9 in 10 Americans Fear Economy Will Collapse During Coronavirus Shutdowns (WE)

A large portion of the country is concerned about the economy collapsing amid restrictions placed on businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Tuesday poll from Axios/Ipsos, 89% of both Republicans and Democrats have some concern that the coronavirus may trigger an economic collapse. The U.S. economy has already suffered some significant blows, including 26 million new jobless claims since the pandemic first hit the country. While the Trump administration has predicted that the economy will recover quickly, senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Sunday that this is the worst hit the economy has taken since the Great Depression.

“During the Great Recession, remember that was the financial crisis around 2008 that we lost 8.7 million jobs in the whole thing. Right now, we’re losing that many jobs about every 10 days. And so, the economic lift for policymakers is an extraordinary one,” Hassett said. The federal government worked to inject money into the economy by giving most adults a stimulus check of up to $1,200 for an individual and $500 for dependents. According to the poll, 38% put the check into savings, 26% used it to pay off debt, and 18% planned to spend it but hadn’t yet. The patterns show that much of the stimulus funding was not spent on new purchases from businesses.


Republicans and Democrats were on the same page when it came to their concern of economic ruin, but they differed greatly on their fears about reopening the economy too soon. 88% of Democrats feared opening the economy too soon, while only 56% of Republicans felt the same way.

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Wait. That means they don’t get anything from the payroll schemes, right?

50 Million Americans Have Lost Their Job In Past 6 Weeks (ZH)

When Thursday’s initial claims report is published at 830am on Thursday, the Dept of Labor will confirm that the current depression is unlike any seen before, with approximately 30 million Americans losing their jobs in the past 6 weeks alone. That, however, may be underestimating the full number of Americans who have lost their jobs by as much as 50%. According to an online poll by the left-wing Economic Policy Institute, millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work during the coronavirus pandemic have been unable to register for unemployment benefits. The poll found that for every 10 people who have successfully filed unemployment claims, three or four people have been unable to register and another two people have not tried to apply at a time of acute economic crisis.

Official statistics show that 26.5 million people have applied for unemployment benefits since mid-March, wiping out all of the jobs gained during the longest employment boom in U.S. history, and another 3.5 million initial claims are expected to be filed this week. However, EPI’s survey indicates that an additional 8.9 million to 13.9 million people have been shut out of the system, said Ben Zipperer, the study’s lead author, which means that as of this week, just shy of 50 million American have lost their job since the start of March. “This study validates the anecdotes and news reports we’re seeing about people having trouble filing for benefits they need and deserve,” Zipperer said.


Among the reasons why idled workers have been unable to get in the “pipeline”, they claim they have encountered downed websites and clogged phone lines, as the state governments that administer the program have been overwhelmed by applicants. “It’s a shame how you work for so many years and then when you need it, you can’t get it,” said Jim Hewes, 48, who said he was unable to file a claim online for more than two weeks after he was furloughed from his job at an Orlando, Florida, second-hand store in March. Hewes said he mailed off a paper application on April 9 but had not heard back from the state.

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Mass incineration.

China Could Have 50x More Coronavirus Cases Than Claimed – US Official (Fox)

As the international community, including Chinese citizens, raises questions about the Chinese government’s tally of coronavirus cases and the communist nation’s mortality rate, new details are emerging about just how far off official government calculations have likely been, Fox News has learned. Last week, the People’s Republic of China increased their official count of fatalities inside Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, by 50 percent in just one day, increasing the overall tally by 1,290 people. Now, a Trump administration official tells Fox News they estimate the PRC has miscalculated and underreported the true tally nationwide by at least a factor of 50. “PRC numbers as reported today seem to be arithmetically impossible,” the official said.


“Again, we don’t know the real numbers today, but we do know the about 80,000 infections and 4,000 deaths as reported by the Chinese Communist Party propaganda are not even remotely close,” the person added. Intelligence sources, asked about recent reports of funeral homes in Wuhan becoming overwhelmed by the volume of new corpses and plagued by a shortage of urns to hold virus victims’ remains, declined to confirm the existence of classified satellite images. They did affirm, however, that the reporting is within the realm of possibility based on the evidentiary record. In support of this claim, officials point to the existence of seven funeral homes inside Wuhan city with a total incineration capacity of about 2,000 corpses per day. They also flag recent reporting that incinerators have been in near-constant use for 24 hours per day over the past several weeks. They note that, at this rate, the city’s incineration capacity nears 60,000 corpses per month.

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Australia is just “.. chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes..”

China Embassy Accuses Australia Of ‘Petty Tricks’ In Coronavirus Dispute (R.)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his proposed inquiry into how the coronavirus developed and spread would not be targeted at China but was needed given COVID-19 had killed more than 200,000 people and shut down much of the global economy. “Now, it would seem entirely reasonable and sensible that the world would want to have an independent assessment of how this all occurred, so we can learn the lessons and prevent it from happening again,” he said. Australian government ministers have repeatedly said China, the country’s largest trade partner, was threatening “economic coercion” after its ambassador, Cheng Jingye, said this week that Chinese consumers could boycott Australian products and universities because of the calls for the inquiry.

The head of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) called Cheng to express concern. The Chinese embassy then released a statement detailing what it said was discussed on the call, prompting another rebuke from DFAT. On Wednesday, the Chinese embassy returned fire, saying on its website that details of the call had first been “obviously leaked by some Australian officials” and it needed to set the record straight. “The Embassy of China doesn’t play petty tricks, this is not our tradition. But if others do, we have to reciprocate,” an embassy spokesman said in the statement. Chinese state media has fiercely rounded on Morrison, with Australian studies scholar Chen Hong writing in the Global Times tabloid on Wednesday that Australia was “spearheading” a “malicious campaign to frame and incriminate China”.


And Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the paper which is affiliated to the Beijing-controlled People’s Daily newspaper, said on Chinese social media that Australia was always making trouble. “It is a bit like chewing gum stuck on the sole of China’s shoes. Sometimes you have to find a stone to rub it off,” Hu wrote. New Zealand, which also has China as its largest trading partner, on Wednesday sided with neighbouring Australia in supporting an inquiry into the pandemic. “It’s very hard to conceive of there not being a desire by every country in world, including the country of origin, for an investigation to find out how this happened,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.

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What are the odds of every single country on the western face of the earth getting this so horribly wrong? And yet, they did.

A Fifth To Half Of All Coronavirus Deaths Have Been In Nursing Homes (JTN)

A few days ago the World Health Organization’s European regional director garnered global headlines by providing a grim statistic that pinpoints the ground zero in this coronavirus pandemic. More than half of the COVID-19 deaths in Europe have occurred in long-term care or nursing home facilities. It is “an unimaginable human tragedy,” Dr. Hans Kluge declared. Europe is not alone. At least one in five deaths recorded in the United States so far has occurred in nursing homes or long-term care facilities and experts believe that percentage may grow substantially. The Kaiser Family Foundation, one of the leading health nonprofits in America, reported late last week that 27 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the 23 states that report fatalities publicly by location have occurred in nursing homes and long-term facilities.

In six of those states — Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Utah — the percentage of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes was over 50 percent of total deaths, the foundation reported. “The individuals that reside in long-term care facilities are among the most vulnerable in the US to this virus, given occupation density of these facilities and residents’ underlying poor health,” Kaiser warned. The disproportionate death toll in long-term care facilities is shining a painful light both on how poorly prepared these facilities were for a lethal outbreak and how the drastic measures since taken to stem the tide — including a ban on family visits — are creating isolation in the final days of victims’ lives. “They are no longer getting their emotional and physical support that such visits provide,” Kluge said. “Sometimes residents face the threat of abuse and neglect.”


Dr. Max Arella, a Quebec-based virologist and molecular biologist studying coronavirus for decades, told Just the News that in Canada some nursing homes have had 40% or more of their residents infected. “From the start everyone was responding as if this were a normal influenza virus and with the aging population and underlying conditions whether it is diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer patients it is hard to practice social distancing,” he said. “Everyone failed from the start. The Chinese and the World Health Organization failed and even at the international, regional and national levels leaders failed,” he said. ”There are sometimes two or more people in one room so if a healthcare provider goes from bed to bed or the patients play cards the virus spreads. Not recognizing what this was and responding early was a major issue.”

Read more …

Promising. Nasal drops.

Experimental Trial Of Recombinant Human Interferon Alpha Nasal Drops (medRxiv)

Objective To investigate the efficacy and safety of recombinant human interferon alpha1b (rhIFN-α) nasal drops in healthy medical staff to prevent 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Methods A prospective, open-label study was conducted. Starting January 21, 2020, at Taihe Hospital in Shiyan City, Hubei Province, 2944 medical staff members were recruited and allocated into a low-risk group or a high-risk group according to whether they were directly exposed to the coronavirus.

Participants in the low-risk group received rhIFN-α nasal drops (2-3 drops/nostril/time, 4 times/day) for 28 days; those in the high-risk group received rhIFN-α nasal drops combined with thymosin-α1 (1.6 mg, hypodermic injection, once a week). The primary outcome was new-onset COVID-19 over 28 days. The secondary outcome was new-onset fever or respiratory symptoms but with negative pulmonary images.

The results were compared with the number of new cases in medical staff in the same areas of Hubei Province (including Wuhan) during the same period. Adverse reactions to interferon nasal drops were also observed.

Results Among the 2944 subjects in our study, 2415 were included in the low-risk group, including 997 doctors and 1418 nurses with average ages of 37.38 and 33.56 years, respectively; 529 were included in the high-risk group, including 122 doctors and 407 nurses with average ages of 35.24 and 32.16 years, respectively.

The 28-day incidence of COVID-19 was zero in both the high- and low-risk groups. The 28-day incidence of new-onset clinical symptoms with negative images for pneumonia was also zero in both the high- and low-risk groups. As controls, a total of 2035 medical personnel with confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia from the same area (Hubei Province) was observed between January 21 to February 23, 2020. There were no serious adverse effects in the 2944 subjects treated during the intervention period.

Conclusion In this investigator-initiated open-label study, we observed that rhIFN-α nasal drops can effectively prevent COVID-19 in treated medical personnel. Our results also indicate that rhIFN-α nasal drops have potential promise for protecting susceptible healthy people during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Don’t think it’s only the lungs that are at risk.

Patients Who Survive COVID19 May Suffer Lasting Lung Damage (ScienceN)

Among patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in China comes the first evidence that some may suffer long-term lung damage from the disease. In 70 patients who survived COVID-19 pneumonia, 66 had some level of lung damage visible in CT scans taken before hospital discharge, researchers report March 19 in Radiology. The damage ranged from dense clumps of hardened tissue blocking blood vessels within the tiny air sacs called alveoli, which absorb oxygen, to tissue lesions around the alveoli, Yuhui Wang, a radiologist at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, and colleagues found. The tissue lesions can be a sign of chronic lung disease. Similar damage has been documented in survivors of SARS and MERS, respiratory diseases caused by coronaviruses similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind COVID-19.


Long-term studies of SARS patients have shown that roughly a third of people who recovered from severe bouts were left with permanent lung damage. In the case of MERS, one study found about a third of people who recovered from a serious infection still had signs of lung damage about seven months later. But while initial lung images indicate that SARS and MARS typically set into just one lung, COVID-19 appears to be more likely to afflict both lungs right away. In 75 of the 90 patients admitted to Huazhong University Hospital with COVID-19 pneumonia from January 16 to February 17, damage was seen across both lungs, Wang and colleagues report. CT scans taken before hospital discharge revealed that 42 out of 70 patients displayed the type of lesions around the alveoli that are more likely to develop into scars.

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Not a great headline.

Yaneer Bar-Yam is the president of the New England Complex System Institute and a co-writer with Taleb. His motto is “Crush the Curve”, not flatten it.

“Rather than kind of doing sort of the least effort that kind of will slow it down, do the most effort and get it to stop and you’re done”

More Than 100 Experts Call For ‘Aggressive Action Against COVID-19’ (Wsls)

Scientists, healthcare professionals, policy experts, business owners, and concerned citizens are calling upon Gov. Ralph Northam to be far stricter to eliminate the coronavirus in Virginia. The group, organized by EndCoronavirus.org, is asking for the governor to take seven “low-cost, high-impact actions to zero out COVID-19 in Virginia”:
• Empower local governments
• Maximize social distancing
• Require mask usage
• Deploy approaches that have worked elsewhere to scale up testing
• Leverage volunteers to cheaply scale up contact tracing
• Convert unused college dormitories into voluntary isolation facilities
• Implement “safe travel” rules to prevent importation of new cases

Yaneer Bar-Yam led the charge in crafting this plan, after he said Virginians asked for his expertise to find the best way to combat COVID-19. “It’s the opportunity to go back to normal that everybody wants,” Bar-Yam said. “We’re kind of operating now at kind of the edge of, ‘Is it going to go up? Is it going to be flat? Is it going to go down?’ Why should we do it in that way?” Bar-Yam said this plan is about stopping the spread altogether instead of just slowing it. “Rather than kind of doing sort of the least effort that kind of will slow it down, do the most effort and get it to stop and you’re done,” Bar-Yam said.


More than 200 people have signed the letter, explaining those seven points in greater detail. Among the signers of the letter are faculty members at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. “We have the chance to decrease the suffering and death of so many people,” said Felicia Etzkorn, chemistry professor at Virginia Tech.

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You can try, but do be careful. How is a waitress going to serve you?

Lithuanian Capital To Be Turned Into Vast Open-Air Cafe (G.)

Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, has announced plans to turn the city into a vast open-air cafe by giving over much of its public space to hard-hit bar and restaurant owners so they can put their tables outdoors and still observe physical distancing rules. The Baltic state, which has recorded 1,344 cases of the coronavirus and 44 deaths, allowed cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, hairdressers and almost all shops to begin reopening this week as part of a staged exit from lockdown. But the health ministry has imposed strict physical distancing rules and safety measures. Shops must limit the number of customers at one time, masks will remain mandatory in all public spaces, and cafe and restaurant tables have to be placed at least two metres apart.


That posed a problem for many restaurateurs in Vilnius old town, Senamiestis, a Unesco-listed world heritage site whose narrow streets make it almost impossible to place more than a couple of tables outside – prompting the mayor’s offer. “Plazas, squares, streets – nearby cafes will be allowed to set up outdoor tables free of charge this season and thus conduct their activities during quarantine,” said Remigijus Simasius. Public safety remained the city’s top priority, the mayor said, but the measure should help cafes to “open up, work, retain jobs and keep Vilnius alive”. Eighteen of the city’s public spaces, including its central Cathedral Square, have been opened up for outdoor cafes and restaurants, city hall said, and more are expected to be added as the summer progresses. The move has been welcomed by owners, with more than 160 applying to take up the offer.

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Let the politicians go first.

Thousands Of British Workers Will Need To Gather The Harvest (R.)

Thousands of British workers will need to help gather the harvest as seasonal workers from other parts of Europe are unable to travel due to the coronavirus lockdown, the environment minister said on Wednesday. British Environment Secretary George Eustice said that in a normal year around 30,000 people come from mainly the European Union to do seasonal agricultural work, though only a third are here now. “We will need a significant number of British people, in particular those who have been furloughed they have the chance if they want,” Eustice told BBC radio. “We are getting huge interest from people wanting to do this,” he said. “We need tens of thousands of people to do this work.” The peak comes at the end of May and during June, he said.

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“Macy’s has been living off its real estate portfolio of “owned boxes” for years by selling them.”

Can Macy’s Get Through this Crisis and Stay Relevant? (WS)

Macy’s, the largest surviving department store in the US, and still clinging by its fingernails to the last rung of the top 10 ecommerce retailers in the US, down from 7th place in 2019, may never reopen many of its stores that it hadn’t already decided to shutter before the crisis. In 2019, 26% of its $24.5 billion in sales were online sales, up from 23% a year earlier, according to its 10-K filing with the SEC. In the second quarter (February through April), as all its stores were closed on March 18, the percentage of digital sales to total sales will surge. But it won’t be enough. Investors have lost faith, demonstrated amply by the crash of its 7.0% senior unsecured 30-year bond due in February 2028. The bonds have been in deeply distressed territory since mid-March. Since February 14, they have collapsed by 53%, to a new low on Tuesday of 54.1 cents on the dollar, giving them a yield of 18.6% (chart via Finra-Morningstar):

Macy’s is not out of cash. At the end of its fiscal year on February 1, it had $685 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand. On March 20, it said that it drew its entire credit line of $1.5 billion as “proactive measure.” So that would be close to a total of $2.2 billion in cash. But part of the cash has already been burned. The bond market believes that there is a decent chance these $2.2 billion and whatever else Macy’s may be able to pull out of its hat – more on that in a moment – will get it through the first part of 2021 without filing for bankruptcy. [..] To stay out of bankruptcy court, Macy’s is now trying to pull a big rabbit out of the hat: borrow up to $5 billion, secured by stores it owns and by merchandise, sources told CNBC and Bloomberg last week.


The sources said that $3 billion of the debt could be backed by inventories as collateral. And that $1 billion to $2 billion could be backed by real estate. Macy’s owns 342 of 775 stores it still operated as of February 1. None of these “owned boxes,” as it calls them, were encumbered by a mortgage, it said in its 10-K. It also owns some other properties. For years already, Macy’s has been “monetizing,” as it calls it, this real estate portfolio through the sale of properties.

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Merkel doesn’t understand how energy links to the economy: “..a higher cash incentive for buying electric cars..” is the very opposite of what the situation calls for. Try fewer cars first.

Merkel Wants Green Recovery From Coronavirus Crisis (R.)

Governments should focus on climate protection when considering fiscal stimulus packages to support an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday. Her comments are the clearest sign yet that Merkel wants to combine the task of helping companies recover from the pandemic with the challenge of setting more incentives for reducing carbon emissions. Speaking at a virtual climate summit known as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Merkel said she expected difficult discussions about how to design post-crisis stimulus measures and about which business sectors need more help than others.


“It will be all the more important that if we set up economic stimulus programmes, we must always keep a close eye on climate protection,” Merkel said, adding the focus should be laid on supporting modern technologies and renewable energies. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the conference there could be an opportunity for the world in the “dark times” of the coronavirus crisis. “The restart can lead to a healthier and more resilient world for everyone,” he said. Merkel said governments should pull in private-sector money through international financial markets to finance the costly shift towards a more climate-friendly economy. Proposals discussed by senior members of Merkel’s ruling coalition for a post-coronavirus stimulus package include a higher cash incentive for buying electric cars.

Read more …

Cue protest from both sides of the aisle.

Trump Wants All US Troops Out Of Afghanistan Now Due To Coronavirus (ZH)

It appears the coronavirus pandemic may have provided the leverage President Trump needs to finally get all American troops out of the over eighteen-year quagmire in Afghanistan. A new report this week by NBC has cited multiple senior officials to say the president “complains almost daily” that the US still has troops in Afghanistan, and that they are at risk for the spread of coronavirus. According to NBC: “His renewed push to withdraw all of them has been spurred by the convergence of his concern that coronavirus poses a force protection issue for thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and his impatience with the halting progress of his peace deal with the Taliban, the officials said.”

The historic peace deal signed between the US and Taliban at the end of February was based on a roadmap that would see the complete withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country 14 months from the signing. It also called for a near-term massive US troop reduction to 8,600 within 135 days of signing – contingent on the Taliban’s fulfillment of its commitments under the agreement. Trump is not satisfied with the progress, and his generals appear divided on his recent increased verbalization to get out. But they apparently share his concerns over local outbreaks impacting troops stationed there: U.S. officials worry the virus could become rampant in Afghanistan, given its lack of health care and testing and its shared border with Iran, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.


“Afghanistan is going to have a significant coronavirus issue,” a former senior U.S. official said. “It hasn’t really manifested yet but it will.” On the other hand they argue that should coronavirus be a driving reason to pullout of central Asia, then it makes the American military’s presence in places like hard-hit Italy even harder to defend. “They said the president’s military advisers have made the case to him that if the U.S. pulls troops out of Afghanistan because of the coronavirus, by that standard the Pentagon would also have to withdraw from places like Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, officials said,” according to the NBC report

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“All of a sudden, they’re deemed essential workers in a pandemic, giving them tremendous leverage and power if they organize collectively.”

Amazon, Walmart Essential Workers Plan Unprecedented Strike (IC)

An unprecedented coalition of workers from some of America’s largest companies will strike on Friday. Workers from Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx are slated to walk out on work, citing what they say is their employers’ record profits at the expense of workers’ health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The employees will call out sick or walk off the job during their lunch break, according to a press release set to be published by organizers on Wednesday. In some locations, rank-and-file union members will join workers outside their warehouses and storefronts to support the demonstrations.

“We are acting in conjunction with workers at Amazon, Target, Instacart and other companies for International Worker’s Day to show solidarity with other essential workers in our struggle for better protections and benefits in the pandemic,” said Daniel Steinbrook, a Whole Foods employee and strike organizer. The labor action comes as workers and organizers say Amazon, in particular, has not been forthcoming about the number of Covid-19 cases at its more than 175 fulfillment centers globally. Jana Jumpp, an Indiana Amazon employee, along with her small team of fellow Amazon workers, has over the last month tallied Covid-19 cases at Amazon warehouses in the U.S. According to Jumpp, there have been at least 500 coronavirus cases in at least 125 Amazon facilities.


[..] “These workers have been exploited so shamelessly for so long by these companies while performing incredibly important but largely invisible labor,” said Stephen Brier, a labor historian and professor at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. “All of a sudden, they’re deemed essential workers in a pandemic, giving them tremendous leverage and power if they organize collectively.” The workers coalition will unveil a set of demands. Among them are: compensation for all unpaid time off used since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in March; hazard pay or paid sick leave to be provided for the duration of the pandemic; protective equipment and all cleaning supplies to be provided at all times by the company; and a demand for full corporate transparency on the number of cases in facilities.

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Headline could easily have been from 6 months ago.

Two more and entirely new software issues. But yeah, hand them another $100 billion.

Boeing 737 MAX Expected To Remain Grounded Until At Least August (R.)

Boeing Co’s grounded 737 MAX jet is expected to remain grounded until at least August as the manufacturer continues to grapple with software issues, people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The largest planemaker has signaled it now hopes to win regulatory approval in August for the plane’s return to service, but that could be pushed backed until fall, the sources said, as timing for meeting milestones is uncertain. The best-selling airplane has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people. Boeing halted production in January and has 400 undelivered MAX planes in storage.

Southwest Airlines, the largest operator of 737 MAX airplanes worldwide, said Tuesday it was removing the MAX from its schedule through Oct. 30 based on Boeing’s “recent communication on the MAX return to service date.” Last week, Reuters reported that a key certification test flight had been delayed until late May at the earliest and reported in early April the company was dealing with two new software issues. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repeatedly said it has no timetable for approving the plane’s return to the skies.


Boeing said on April 7 it needed to make two new software updates to the 737 MAX’s flight control computer. One issue involves hypothetical faults in the flight control microprocessor, which could potentially lead to a loss of control known as a runaway stabilizer. The other issue could lead to disengagement of the autopilot feature during final approach. Boeing said on April 7 it was working with Raytheon unit Collins Aerospace Systems on the software updates, but it remained unclear when Collins will complete work and how long it will take U.S. and other regulators to validate the fixes as they complete a software documentation audit.

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Matt Taibbi got a lot of flack on Twitter for quoting this from the Daily Caller. His reply: they’re the only ones reporting on it; I can only wish there were others.

Steele Had Undisclosed Meetings With Lawyers For DNC, Clinton Campaign (DC)

A lawyer representing the DNC and Clinton campaign provided Christopher Steele with information in 2016 regarding an alleged secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank, the former spy told a British court last month. That now-debunked tip, from Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann, set off a chain of events that led to Steele publishing a Sept. 14, 2016 memo accusing the founders of the bank, Alfa Bank, of having “illicit” ties to Vladimir Putin, according to a court transcript obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. A week after Steele wrote that memo, he had another meeting with Sussmann’s colleague, Marc Elias, according to the transcript.

Steele disclosed the previously unreported meetings with Sussmann and Elias during testimony in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by the Alfa Bank founders, the transcript shows. Steele’s testimony about Sussmann and Elias provides insight into how deeply involved the two lawyers were in the Trump investigation, and suggests they helped shape Steele’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. [..] Elias, who served as general counsel for the Clinton campaign, hired Fusion GPS in April 2016 to investigate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS in turn picked Steele, a former MI6 officer, in June 2016 to investigate Trump’s possible ties to Russia.


Steele would go on to produce 17 memos alleging that the Russian government had blackmail material on Trump, and that members of his campaign were conspiring with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. Many of Steele’s most explosive allegations have been debunked in the 40 months since BuzzFeed News published the dossier. A Justice Department inspector general’s report said that Steele’s primary source of information disputed many of the allegations in the dossier. The IG report also said that the FBI and U.S. intelligence community received evidence in 2017 that Russian intelligence operatives may have fed disinformation to Steele. The IG report also dealt a fatal blow to the Alfa Bank theory peddled by Sussmann.

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Apr 032020
 


Elliott Erwitt National Congress Building by Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia, Brazil 1961

 

US Paying Russia For Entire Planeload Of Coronavirus Equipment – Official (R.)
Our Finest Hour (Ben Hunt)
New York City Nurses Demand Personal Protection Equipment (WABC)
New Orleans Coronavirus Death Rate Is Twice New York. Obesity Is A Factor (R.)
US Weekly Jobless Claims Blow Past Six Million As Lockdowns Spread (R.)
Israeli Scientists: Coronavirus Vaccine Tested On Humans By June 1 (JPost)
France’s Coronavirus Death Toll Jumps As Nursing Homes Included (R.)
Germany Has A Low Coronavirus Mortality Rate: Here’s Why (CNBC)
Fed’s Dilemma: Picking Winners For $4 Trillion In Credit (R.)
This Hard Truth About The Mortgage Markets Isn’t Being Told (Jurow)
A Corporate Debt Reckoning Is Coming (13D)
US Air Force To Release $882 Million To Boeing (R.)
US Crude Futures Trim Record Gain (R.)
Cuomo’s Bubble is Starting to Burst (Lauria)
Google Releases Location Data On Lockdowns In 131 Countries (R.)
Leaked Amazon Memo Details Plan to Smear Fired Warehouse Organizer (Vice)

 

 

We’ll keep setting records for a while longer yet, driven by the US in particular.

US cases doubled in 8 days. That rate will speed up.

All countries, the US first of all, need to move their focus away from saving companies and onto saving people. Now would be a good time.

 

 

Cases 1,030,181 (+ 79,756 from yesterday’s 950,425)

Deaths 54,194 (+ 5,918 from yesterday’s 48,276)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-.

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 20% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

 

 

Who said the RussiaRussia obsession couldn’t be fun? Bottom line between the lines: the US pays, but as the Russians say, both cover half the cost. In other words, the US pays half price. Will that satisfy the American propaganda voices? Stay tuned. Putin was criticized at home for selling these things to the US while Russia may not have enough for itself.

Compare that to Tucker’s America First declaration. And Thailand’s response.

US Paying Russia For Entire Planeload Of Coronavirus Equipment – Official (R.)

The United States is paying Russia for a planeload of medical equipment sent by Moscow to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, a senior Trump administration official said on Thursday, clearing up confusion as to who footed the bill. It had been unclear whether Russia had sent the 60 tons of equipment as a gift or whether it had sold the shipment of ventilators, masks, respirators and other items following a phone discussion between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump, asked about the shipment at a White House news briefing, said he was happy to take delivery of it. “I am not concerned about Russian propaganda, not even a little bit. He (Putin) offered a lot of medical, high-quality stuff that I accepted. And that may save a lot of lives. I’ll take it every day,” he said.


The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow had paid half the cost with the other half picked up by Washington. But the senior administration official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the United States paid. “The United States is purchasing the supplies and equipment outright, as with deliveries from other countries,” the official said. “We appreciate Russia selling these items to us below market value.” The official did not give an exact cost. The State Department did not respond to requests for more information. The plane arrived on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and the gear was to be inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make sure it met U.S. quality standards.

https://twitter.com/ColumbiaBugle/status/1245881131225890816

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Ben Hunt is setting up a program to purchase and distribute masks and other PPE equipment in the US. It’s a terrible shame that he, like so many Americans, thinks he must, for some reason, put this in terms of warfare. Shouldn’t it be the opposite?

“There is no country in the world that mobilizes for war more effectively than the United States. And I know you won’t believe me, but I tell you it is true: This will be #OurFinestHour.”

Our Finest Hour (Ben Hunt)

Last week we wrote a brief note (Getting PPE to Healthcare Workers and First Responders) to introduce our efforts to get personal protective equipment (PPE) directly into the hands of frontline heroes: healthcare professionals and emergency responders who put their own lives and their families’ lives at risk every freakin’ day to stem the tide against this virus. Today I want to share with you the story of how this effort has come together into something real and tangible. Today I want to invite you to join us. First let me tell you what we’re NOT doing. We are not competing with federal or state emergency management authorities in their big bulk orders of PPE.


We are not going to drive up the price of these supplies any more than they have already been driven up in this global scramble to acquire medical gear. But we are also not waiting on these federal or state emergency management authorities to get these big bulk orders and then trickle the supplies down to the frontlines. What we ARE doing is putting together an end-to-end grassroots PPE distribution effort, where we source the equipment from certified manufacturers who meet accepted international standards, we pay for these purchases out of a 501(c)(3) foundation where 100 cents of every dollar goes to this effort, and we distribute that PPE all the way through the “last-mile”, getting small quantities of PPE directly into the hands of clinicians and first responders who are in urgent need.

Over the past 10 days we’ve purchased and distributed about 15,000 N95 and N95-equivalent masks directly to the doctors and nurses and firemen and EMTs who need the equipment NOW, in deliveries as small as 30 masks and as large as 500, depending on need. More importantly, we’ve set up a pipeline where we think we can get a steady delivery of 2,000 or so masks per day AND the occasional larger order AND the distribution capacity + knowledge to get this equipment directly to our frontline heroes. We’ve raised more than $200,000 to support this effort. We’ve partnered with incredibly generous private companies ranging in size from a Fortune 50 megacorp to the owners of the local UPS franchise. And we’re just getting started.


[..] If you are a healthcare worker or a first responder anywhere in the United States in urgent need of PPE, or you know someone who is, please fill out the online form below to get on our distribution list. Right now we are focused on N95 and N95-equivalent masks (more on the different types of masks in the Sourcing section of this note), although in the future we will try to supply isolation gowns and other PPE items..

https://twitter.com/AvidCommentator/status/1245892087020572672

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Ask Ben Hunt.

New York City Nurses Demand Personal Protection Equipment (WABC)

There’s a growing concern among nurses and doctors in New York City that they’ll run out of personal protection equipment (PPE) and supplies. A dozen health care workers spoke out Thursday near Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx about their concerns. “We’re running out of PPE, we’re running out of pain medication, we’re running out of sedatives,” third-year resident physician Laura Ucik said. State leaders say hundreds of thousands of personal protection masks and supplies have been shipped to New York, but some health care workers say their emergency rooms haven’t benefited yet. “If front line care givers are sick, are dying, there won’t be anyone left to take care of the public,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, ER nurse and president of the New York State Nurses Association.


Some health care workers are saying they’re being told to reuse not only critical N95 masks but every day supplies. “I was given one disposable gown to use all day to take care of COVID-19 patients,” Ucik said. “And I would hang it up on an IV pole in between patients and put my single N95 mask into a brown paper bag.” It’s a problem at hospitals throughout the area. The New York City Health Department recently sent an alert to hospitals, telling them to “conserve all personal protective equipment now.” It isn’t a request, and the language in the alert states health care facilities must immediately implement these measures. “It puts me at risk, it puts you at risk, everyone in the health care building at risk,” nurse Victoria Lanquah said.

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It’ll prove to be a major factor all over the US.

New Orleans Coronavirus Death Rate Is Twice New York. Obesity Is A Factor (R.)

The coronavirus has been a far deadlier threat in New Orleans than the rest of the United States, with a per-capita death rate twice that of New York City. Doctors, public health officials and available data say the Big Easy’s high levels of obesity and related ailments may be part of the problem. “We’re just sicker,” said Rebekah Gee, who until January was the health secretary for Louisiana and now heads Louisiana State University’s healthcare services division. “We already had tremendous healthcare disparities before this pandemic – one can only imagine they are being amplified now.” Along with New York and Seattle, New Orleans has emerged as one of the early U.S. hot spots for the coronavirus, making it a national test case for how to control and treat the disease it causes.


Chief among the concerns raised by doctors working in the Louisiana city is the death rate, which is twice that of New York and over four times that of Seattle, based on Thursday’s publicly reported data. New Orleans residents suffer from obesity, diabetes and hypertension at rates higher than the national average, conditions that doctors and public health officials say can make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. Some 97% of those killed by COVID-19 in Louisiana had a pre-existing condition, according to the state health department. Diabetes was seen in 40% of the deaths, obesity in 25%, chronic kidney disease in 23% and cardiac problems in 21%. Orleans Parish, which encompasses the city, reported 125 confirmed coronavirus deaths as of Thursday, the equivalent of 32 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people. That rate for New York City was at 15.9 on Thursday.

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Will Reuters stop polling the team of economists now, after another ridiculously off the mark prediction? No, it will not.

US Weekly Jobless Claims Blow Past Six Million As Lockdowns Spread (R.)

The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to a record high of more than 6 million last week as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which economists say has pushed the economy into recession. Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department, the most timely data on the economy’s health, reinforced economists’ views that the longest employment boom in U.S. history probably ended in March. With a majority of Americans now under some form of lockdown, claims are expected to rise further. Economists said worsening job losses underscored the need for additional fiscal and monetary stimulus. President Donald Trump last week signed a historic $2.3 trillion package, with provisions for companies and unemployed workers.

The Federal Reserve has also undertaken extraordinary measures to help companies weather the highly contagious virus, which has brought the country to a halt. “These data underscore the magnitude of the stop-work order that has been imposed on the economy,” said Conrad DeQuadros, senior economic advisor at Brean Capital in New York. “The scale of the increase should also focus policymakers on getting the cash into the economy with possibly a fourth fiscal package and additional Fed lending programs.” [..] Initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 3.341 million to a seasonally adjusted 6.648 million for the week ended March 28, the government said. That was double the previous all-time high of 3.307 million set in the prior week. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims would jump to 3.50 million in the latest week, though estimates were as high as 5.25 million.

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There are dozens of these things happening. This is the Jerusalem Post on an Israeli company, which makes the “news” suspicious right off the bat.

Israeli Scientists: Coronavirus Vaccine Tested On Humans By June 1 (JPost)

A team of Israeli researchers says that they are days away from completing the production of the active component of a coronavirus vaccine that could be tested on humans as early as June 1. “We are in the final stages and within a few days we will hold the proteins – the active component of the vaccine,” Dr. Chen Katz, group leader of MIGAL’s biotechnology group, told The Jerusalem Post. In late February, MIGAL (The Galilee Research Institute) committed to completing production of its vaccine within three weeks and having it on the market in 90 days. Katz said they were slightly delayed because it took longer than expected to receive the genetic construct that they ordered from China due to the airways being closed and it having to be rerouted.

As a reminder, for the past four years, researchers at MIGAL have been developing a vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which causes a bronchial disease affecting poultry. The effectiveness of the vaccine has been proven in preclinical trials carried out at the Veterinary Institute. “Our basic concept was to develop the technology and not specifically a vaccine for this kind or that kind of virus,” said Katz. “The scientific framework for the vaccine is based on a new protein expression vector, which forms and secretes a chimeric soluble protein that delivers the viral antigen into mucosal tissues by self-activated endocytosis, causing the body to form antibodies against the virus.”

In preclinical trials, the team demonstrated that the oral vaccination induces high levels of specific anti-IBV antibodies, Katz said. “Let’s call it pure luck,” he said. “We decided to choose coronavirus as a model for our system just as a proof of concept for our technology.”

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This can’t be the exception. Such “counting errors” maust be commonplace.

France’s Coronavirus Death Toll Jumps As Nursing Homes Included (R.)

The coronavirus death count in France surged to nearly 5,400 people on Thursday after the health ministry began including nursing home fatalities in its data. The pandemic had claimed the lives of 4,503 patients in hospitals by Thursday, up 12% on the previous day’s 4,032, said Jerome Salomon, head of the health authority. A provisional tally showed the coronavirus had killed a further 884 people in nursing homes and other care facilities, he added. This makes for a total of 5,387 lives lost to coronavirus in France – an increase of 1,355 over Wednesday’s cumulative total – although data has not yet been collected from all of the country’s 7,400 nursing homes. “We are in France confronting an exceptional epidemic with an unprecedented impact on public health,” Salomon told a news conference.


The country’s broad lockdown is likely to be extended beyond April 15, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday, extending a confinement order to try and deal with the crisis that began on March 17. The government was racing to try to ensure it can produce or procure itself certain medications needed to treat coronavirus patients as stocks were running low, Philippe told TF1 TV, echoing concerns across Europe as the pandemic places a huge strain on hospitals in Italy, Spain and elsewhere. More than two-thirds of all the known nursing home deaths have been registered in France’s Grand Est region, which abuts the border with Germany. It was the first region in France to be overwhelmed by a wave of infections that has rapidly moved west to engulf greater Paris, where hospitals are desperately trying to add intensive care beds to cope with the influx of critically ill patients.

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A few remarks: Germany has a huge amount of ICU places. Neighbor the Netherlands has far fewer. But that’s also partly due to a different philosophy: where most countries try to keep people alive as long as possible, the Netherlands has a tradition, way before corona, of focusing more on quality than quantity of life. Old people with multiple ailments are not kept alive at all costs.

And if Andrew Cuomo is correct when he stated that of all people put on a ventilator only 20% survives, a question mark may be suitable. Is Germany’s low death rate a result of them keeping people on ventilators for a long time that will not have a quality life again? Religion is a big issue, but on the other hand there’s a huge increase in Do Not Resuscitate documents.

Note: Germany this morning, like many other countries have, issued a warning that it may run out of ICU places. That may lead to German doctors having to make decisions that they’re not used to making, unlike their Dutch counterparts.

Germany Has A Low Coronavirus Mortality Rate: Here’s Why (CNBC)

Germany seems to be taking the epidemic in its stride with a high number of cases but a low number of deaths, thanks to a number of factors. In Europe, while Italy and Spain are the worst hit countries with over 100,000 cases each, as of Friday, Germany has recorded 84,794 confirmed cases but has witnessed just 1,107 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The low mortality rate in Germany, at just over 1%, is far below its neighboring European countries, and this has been put down to Germany’s decision to implement widespread testing of people suspected of having the virus, as opposed to Italy or the U.K.’s decision to only test symptomatic cases.

Karl Lauterbach, a professor of health economics and epidemiology at the University of Cologne, and a politician in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany, told CNBC that Germany’s less severe experience of the pandemic so far was down to a handful of factors. “I think so far we’ve been lucky because we were hit by the wave of new infections later than many other European countries, for example Italy, Spain and France,” he told CNBC Thursday. “So we had a minor but important delay in the wave of infections coming to Germany. Secondly, the first people that got infected in Germany tended to be younger than the average of the population … so we were hit later and with younger patients initially.”

Lauterbach noted that a third factor that helped Germany was a slow increase in the number of infections, allowing those patients to be treated at the country’s top medical institutions, including some of the country’s best university hospitals (including those in Bonn, Dusseldorf, Aachen and Cologne) in the Heinsberg region where there was a cluster of infections at the start of the outbreak. “Number four, all things considered, the German health-care system and hospital system has been modernized by the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats over the last 20 years … this meant we had more hospital beds, more ventilators, more ICU (Intensive Care Units) beds and more hospital doctors, roughly speaking, than any other comparable country in Europe … So our system is in a reasonable shape for such an epidemic.”

While almost all European countries have introduced lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, fatality rates have differed wildly. The mortality rate in Italy around the end of March stood at 11%, for example. Germany’s rate is comparable with South Korea, a country that has also attracted plaudits for its management of the coronavirus crisis with extensive testing, contact tracing and digital surveillance of its citizens. Germany’s lockdown, alongside a rigorous testing regime, has also helped, Lauterbach said. While countries like the U.K. now have to build a diagnostics industry from scratch, Germany already had one built around the multinational might of Roche.

The country reportedly has the capacity to carry out up to 500,000 tests a week, whereas the U.K. can currently only manage just over 10,000 a day. Asked about the possible trajectory Germany’s coronavirus rate could take, Lauterbach said his worst-case scenario was that 10% of Germany’s 83 million population contract the virus, and with a 1% fatality rate, then 80,000 people would die. “It must be lower than that, it would be a tragedy if 10% of the population get infected, that’s my personal worst-case scenario.”

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We all know who will be the winners.

Fed’s Dilemma: Picking Winners For $4 Trillion In Credit (R.)

When the Federal Reserve polled Wall Street about financial stability risks last fall, “global pandemic” didn’t make the list. But the coronavirus outbreak has triggered virtually every other shock that was mentioned – from a stock market rout to a looming global recession – and is forcing the U.S. central bank and the U.S. Treasury to triage a system springing leaks by the day. Compared with the 2007-2009 meltdown, which was centered in the mortgage and financial markets, the current crisis is a massively more complex problem with the Fed pulled to intervene in virtually every aspect of U.S. household and corporate commerce and finance.

The challenge now facing the central bank, in consultation with the Treasury, is prioritizing which market, set of companies or group of institutions to help next as it plans how to leverage more than $450 billion of seed money from the Treasury into perhaps $4.5 trillion in credit programs. It is an uncomfortable role that could push the Fed beyond its traditional job of keeping financial markets open and running smoothly, to picking winners and losers in whatever economy emerges from a pandemic that has brought business activity to a virtual standstill.

“You’ve entered not just the world of accepting credit risk but of allocating it as well,” said Mark Spindel, a Fed historian who is the chief executive officer of Potomac River Capital. Through the emergency $2.3 trillion legislation passed last week, “Congress and Treasury have decided to cast the Fed as the only balance sheet large enough” for the measures that might be needed. In the extreme, that could include roughly $26 trillion in debt held by non-financial companies and households – $16 trillion if home mortgages are excluded.

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Keith Jurow omits one way the housing zombie has been kept alive: ultra low rates.

This Hard Truth About The Mortgage Markets Isn’t Being Told (Jurow)

Everyone wants to know what impact the coronavirus and the government response to it will have on housing markets. While it is too early to hazard a guess, some things are becoming increasingly clear. Already, it looks as if the U.S. is moving towards a temporary moratorium on mortgage payments. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled an emergency program which provides a two-month deferral of mortgage payments for any homeowner who claims to be facing a hardship because of the virus. The payments will be tacked on at the end of the mortgage term. The coronavirus rescue law just enacted by Congress includes a provision which requires all firms that service federally-backed mortgages to grant a forbearance of up to 360 days for any borrowers who say they have been harmed by the coronavirus outbreak.

It is not much of a stretch to say that this virus has changed everything. Many of you may sense that the virus has undermined what you thought was still a fairly strong housing market around the country. In truth, the so-called housing recovery since 2010 has been little more than a carefully constructed illusion. The belief in a strong housing recovery was carefully devised using a strategy of misleading information, withheld data and false impressions. As I have explained in recent columns, the strategy to turn around collapsing housing markets unfolded in three parts: (1) restrict the number of foreclosed properties placed on the market; (2) radically reduce the number of seriously delinquent homes actually foreclosed and repossessed, and (3) provide millions of delinquent homeowners a mortgage modification as an alternative to foreclosure.

This strategy fooled nearly everyone into believing that the disaster has been overcome. The best example is Los Angeles County — ground zero for the collapse. In 2008, more than 37,000 properties were foreclosed. The plunge in foreclosures didn’t really kick in until 2012 when the number dropped to slightly over 10,000. The next year, foreclosures plunged to 3,340. Don’t think for a minute that this was due to an improving economy. Not at all. It was simply the strategy of desperate servicers. With so few properties foreclosed and even fewer placed on the market, home prices had no where to go but up.

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The Fed will be dragged to the ground by the zombies it’s carrying.

A Corporate Debt Reckoning Is Coming (13D)

Corporate debt is the timebomb everyone saw ticking, but no one was able to defuse. Ratings agencies warned about it: Moody’s, S&P. Central banks and international financial institutions did too: the Fed, the Bank of England, the Bank for International Settlements, the IMF. Financial luminaries expressed concern: Jamie Dimon, Seth Klarman, Jes Staley, Jeffrey Gundlach, Henry McVey. Even a presidential candidate brought the issue on the campaign trail: Elizabeth Warren. Yet, as we’ve documented in these pages for more than two years, corporations have only piled on more debt as their balance sheet health has deteriorated.


Total U.S. non-financial corporate debt sits at just under $10 trillion, a record 47% of GDP. One in six U.S. companies is now a zombie, meaning their interest expenses exceed their earnings before interest and taxes. As of year-end 2019, the percentage of listed companies in the U.S. losing money over 12 months sat close to 40%. In the 12 months to November, non-financial S&P 500 cash balances had declined by 11%, the largest percentage decline since at least 1980.
For too long, record-low interest rates inspired complacency, from companies to lenders to regulators and investors. As we warned in WILTW August 8, 2019, corporate fundamentals will eventually matter. Now, with COVID-19 grinding the global economy to a halt, that time has come.

Systemic threats are littered throughout the corporate debt ecosystem. Greater than 50% of outstanding debt is rated BBB, one rung above junk. As downgrades come, asset managers will be forced to flood the market with supply at a time demand has dried up. Meanwhile, leveraged loans — which have swelled by 50% since 2015 to over $1.2 trillion — threaten unprecedented losses given covenant deterioration. And bond ETFs could face a liquidity crisis as a flood of redemptions force offloading of all-too-illiquid bonds. Red lights are now flashing. Distressed debt in the U.S. has quadrupled in less than a week to nearly $1 trillion. Last week, bond fund outflows quadrupled the previous record, which was set the previous week. Moody’s and S&P have already declared a significant portion of outstanding debt under review for potential downgrade.


Source: FInancial Times

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Boeing’s miliary division is as fault-prone as its 737MAX part. And that’s what the country’s security depends on.

US Air Force To Release $882 Million To Boeing (R.)

The U.S. Air Force will release $882 million in payments to Boeing that were held back due to flaws in the KC-46 air refueling tanker, a Pentagon official said on Thursday. The release of the payment to Boeing is part of a broader recommendation sent to Air Force contracting officials, according to a memo seen by Reuters, aimed at maintaining the financial health of suppliers to the Department of Defense. Will Roper, the Air Force’s chief buyer, told reporters the initiative will free up billions of dollars in funding for numerous contractors, not just Boeing. “If we want to have a defense industrial base coming out of COVID-19, that’s able to continue building,” Roper said, “every day is a new challenge.”


Boeing’s financial situation has become increasingly precarious as economic fallout from the coronavirus has frozen key lending markets and cut off demand for Boeing’s commercial aircraft. The Air Force had the right to hold back about $28 million of the cost of each of the first 52 KC-46 Pegasus jets on order to ensure Boeing delivers fully functional tankers. With 33 jets delivered thus far, the Air Force could have withheld up to $924 million. The Air Force plans to buy 179 of the aircraft, which refuel other aircraft mid-air, but the program has been plagued with problems, including foreign object debris found onboard the planes and issues with a camera system used during the refueling process.

Read more …

A lot of money changed hands yesterday. But who won?

US Crude Futures Trim Record Gain (R.)

Benchmark U.S. crude fell more than 1% in early trade on Friday, coming off its biggest one-day gain in the previous session after U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected Saudi Arabia and Russia to announce a major oil production cut. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 1.4%, or 36 cents, at $24.96 a barrel at 2223 GMT, after having surged 24.7% on Thursday. Even with the huge gains, prices have still slumped nearly 60% this year as oil demand has plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic while Saudi Arabia and Russia have flooded the market with crude in a price war.


Trump said he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut oil output by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels, as the two countries signaled willingness to make a deal. Analysts said even if Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to cut production by as much as 15 million barrels per day (bpd) that would not be enough to balance the market in face of a deep economic recession. “The 10-15 million bpd oil production cut reportedly being brokered by President Trump is a great start, but deeper cuts will likely be needed to get through a difficult Q2,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp. A deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia could effectively establish a floor for WTI in the $30s, he said.

Read more …

At times it feels like he closely follows a Rudy Giuliani scenario. Rule of thumb: if someone has never been really popular and all of a sudden is, do ask why.

Cuomo’s Bubble is Starting to Burst (Lauria)

Cuomo’s present regard for the well-being of every New Yorker, rich or poor, and his lyrical demands to ramp up the number of hospital beds and ventilators is undermined by an ongoing record of drastically cutting back on the state’s assistance to public medical facilities that serve the poor. While he is now frantically trying to add hospital beds in the state (which has lost 20,000 in the past 20 years), Cuomo, over the past decade, agreed to close and consolidate numerous public hospitals, mostly serving the poor, to save money. For instance, in 2013 he approved the closure of the 500-bed Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, despite objections from the community.

Even in these extraordinary circumstances his budget proposal to shave $400 million off the state’s $35 billion Medicaid bill—which provides care to the poorest New Yorkers—was accepted by the state Senate on Thursday when it passed Cuomo’s 2020 budget. It comes precisely as Medicaid recipients need it most. The state Assembly is to vote on the budget Friday. “So determined is Cuomo to slash Medicaid spending that he’s prepared to reject more than $6 billion in matching federal aid approved earlier this month because it would force him to alter his austerity strategy,” The Nation reported on Monday. It said:

“If Cuomo gets his way with the state budget [which the Senate has now given him], many of the city’s most besieged hospitals will lose money at a time when Covid-19 is threatening to crash New York’s health care system. Central Brooklyn hospitals, serving many of the borough’s working class and poor, could lose $38 million a year. Manhattan hospitals could lose up to $58 million a year.” Naomi Zewde, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy at CUNY, told the magazine: “’The proposal to cut funding to public hospitals during a pandemic reflects really poor decision-making.’” Making it worse, is that Cuomo’s budget did not include rises in property or wealth taxes, despite a $10-15 billion shortfall. “There were no new taxes on the ultrarich, a measure many liberals had clamored for,” The New York Times reported.

Read more …

Yes, surveillance state. But no, it’s nothing new.

Google Releases Location Data On Lockdowns In 131 Countries (R.)

Google’s analysis of location data from billions of users’ phones is the largest public dataset available to help health authorities assess if people are abiding with shelter-in-place and similar orders issued across the world. Its reports show charts that compare traffic from Feb. 16 to March 29 at subway, train and bus stations, grocery stores and other broad categories of places with a five-week period earlier this year. In Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, visits to retail and recreation locations, including restaurants and movie theaters, plunged 94% while visits to workplaces slid 63%. Reflecting the severity of the crisis there, grocery and pharmacy visits in Italy dropped 85% and park visits were down by 90%.

In the United States, California, which was the first in the with a statewide lockdown, cut visits to retail and recreation locations by half. By contrast, Arkansas, one of the few states without a sweeping lockdown, has seen such visits fall 29%, the lowest for a U.S. state. The data also underscore some challenges authorities have faced in keeping people apart. Grocery store visits surged in Singapore, the United Kingdom and elsewhere as travel restrictions were set to go into place. Visits to parks spiked in March in some San Francisco Bay Area counties, forcing them to later put the sites off limits. By contrast, in Japan where authorities have been relatively relaxed in urging social distancing measures but where calls have been growing daily for a state of emergency, visits to retail and recreational places fell 26%. Visits to workplace dropped a mere 9%.

[..] Facebook Inc, which like Google has billions of users, has shared location data with non-governmental researchers that are producing similar reports for authorities in several countries. But the social media giant has not published any findings. Infectious disease specialists have said analyzing travel across groups by age, income and other demographics could help shape public service announcements. Google, which infers demographics from users’ internet use as well as some data given when signing up to Google services, said it was not reporting demographic information. The company said, though, it was open to including additional information and countries in follow-up reports.

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The biggest winner in the lockdown economy still finds time to abuse its workers.

Leaked Amazon Memo Details Plan to Smear Fired Warehouse Organizer (Vice)

Leaked notes from an internal meeting of Amazon leadership obtained by VICE News reveal company executives discussed a plan to smear fired warehouse employee Christian Smalls, calling him “not smart or articulate” as part of a PR strategy to make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.” “He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” wrote Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky in notes from the meeting forwarded widely in the company. The discussion took place at a daily meeting, which included CEO Jeff Bezos, to update each other on the coronavirus situation.

Amazon SVP of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney described the purpose to CNN on Sunday: “We go over the update on what’s happening around the world with our employees and with our customers and our businesses. We also spend a significant amount of time just brainstorming about what else we can do” about COVID-19. Zapolsky’s notes also detailed Amazon’s efforts to buy millions of protective masks to protect its workers from the coronavirus, as well as an effort to begin producing and selling its own masks. So far, the company has secured at least 10 million masks for “our operations guys,” with 25 million more coming from a supplier in the next two weeks, Zapolsky wrote. Amazon fired the warehouse worker Smalls on Monday, after he led a walkout of a number of employees at a Staten Island distribution warehouse.

Amazon says he was fired for violating a company-imposed 14-day quarantine after he came into contact with an employee who tested positive for the coronavirus. Smalls says the employee who tested positive came into contact with many other workers for longer periods of time before her test came back. He claims he was singled out after pleading with management to sanitize the warehouse and be more transparent about the number of workers who were sick. [..] “We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal, in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety,” Zapolsky wrote. “Make him the most interesting part of the story, and if possible make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

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It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?

Thanks everyone for your wonderfully generous donations over the past days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for you.

 

Mar 212020
 


Dorothea Lange Ex-slave with long memory, Alabama 1937

 

Coronavirus – Getting Angry (John Bronte)
China Is Avoiding Blame by Trolling the World (Atlantic)
From ‘Chinese virus’ to ‘Trumpandemic’ (RT)
Cuomo Orders New York Lockdown, Shuts Down Non-Essential Businesses (NYP)
New Best Friends: Trump And Archfoes Cuomo And Newsom Bond (JTN) )
Trump’s Approval Rating Soars During Handling Of Coronavirus (JTN)
Biden Plans Shadow Coronavirus Briefings (Pol.)
Cuba’s Interferon Alpha 2B, Successful in Treating COVID-19 (TeleSur)
The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming (Wired)
Pentagon Sends 2,600 Europe-based Personnel Into Quarantine (RT)
Boeing Suspends Dividend, Halts Buybacks, Stops Paying CEO And Chairman (Y!)
National Guard Chief Denies Rumors Of Martial Law Response To Virus (Solomon)
Schiff Claims ‘Immunity’ To Keep Impeachment Phone Subpoenas Secret (JTN)
Strength and Weakness (Kunstler)
CoronaBonds To Hold The Payments System Together (Steve Keen)
Personal Coronavirus Update 02 March 21st 2019 (Steve Keen)

 

 

Relentless. And unfortunately incresiangly political.

 

Cases 279,320 (+ 32,126 from yesterday’s 250,618)

Deaths 11,587 (+ 1,565 from yesterday’s 10,255)

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 11% !! –

 

 

I would like to have better graphs than the SCMP and COVID2019.app ones, and by that I mean things that I can use in this format. But I don’t see them. Johns Hopkins doesn’t provide these nor does COVID19info.live. The latter even has two different numbers for Confirmed and Infected. Do we need that?

Great admiration for what the Wordometer people are doing, but it would be nice(r) to have multiple sources.

From SCMP: (Note: the SCMP graph was useful when China was the focal point; they are falling behind now)

 

 

From COVID2019.app: (New format lacks new cases and deaths)

 

 

 

 

“I regard the current course of English speaking democracies (other than New Zealand) as mass murder by the political elite. I think history will regard it that way too.”

Coronavirus – Getting Angry (John Bronte)

First – no matter what you say about the Chinese data – and the Chinese data was full of lies at first – China has controlled the outbreak. Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing are all functional mega-cities with no obvious health catastrophes. The virus has been managed to very low infection rates in Singapore and Taiwan. The numbers (completely real) in Korea show a dramatic slowdown in infection. Korea has not shut restaurants and the like. The place is functioning. But it has had rigorous quarantine of the infected and very widespread testing. It has complete social buy-in. China tests your temperature when you get on a bus or a train. It tests you when you go into a classroom, it tests you when you enter a building. There is rigorous and enforced quarantine.

But life goes on – and only a few are dying. In Singapore nobody has died (yet) though I expect a handful to do so before this over. This is sad (especially for the affected families) but it is not a mega-catastrophe. There is a story in the Financial Times about a town in the middle of the hot-zone in Italy where they have enforced quarantine and tested everyone in the town twice. They have no cases. The second stylized fact – mortality differs by availability of hospital beds.
• A. Coronavirus provided you do not run out of hospital beds probably has a mortality of about 1 percent. In a population that is very old (such as some areas in Italy) the mortality will be higher. In a population that is very young base mortality should be lower. Also co-morbidities such as smoking matter.
• B. If you run out of ICU beds (ventilators/forced oxygen) every incremental person who needs a ventilator dies. This probably takes your mortality to two percent.
• C. Beyond that a lot of people get a pneumonia that would benefit from supplemental oxygen. If you run out of hospital beds many of these people also die. Your mortality edges higher – but the only working case we have is Iran and you can’t trust their data. That said a lot of young people require supplementary oxygen and will die. If you are 40 and you think this does not apply to you then you are wrong. Mass infection may kill you. Iran has said that 15 percent of their dead are below 40.

I will put this in an American perspective with a 70 percent strike rate by the end.
• Option A: 2 million dead
• Option B: 4 million dead
• Option C: maybe 6 million dead.
By contrast, Singapore: a handful of dead. China has demonstrated this virus can be controlled. The town in Italy has demonstrated it can be controlled even where it is rife. Life goes on in Singapore. Schools are open. Restaurants are open in Korea. The right policy is not “herd immunity” or even “flattening the curve”. The right policy is to try to eliminate as many cases as possible and to strictly control and test to keep cases to a bare minimum for maybe 18 months while a vaccine is produced.

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@Jake_Hanrahan: “Blown away by the amount of people talking about China’s response to Covid-19 as some kind of model to follow. Are you serious? They have disappeared at least two whistleblowers and hid news of the problem for weeks before it became impossible to do so.”

China Is Avoiding Blame by Trolling the World (Atlantic)

The evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and allowing it to spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own country and its own citizens but also the more than 100 nations now facing their own potentially devastating outbreaks. More perniciously, the Chinese government censored and detained those brave doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm and warn their fellow citizens when they understood the gravity of what was to come. Some American commentators and Democratic politicians are aghast at Donald Trump and Republicans for referring to the pandemic as the “Wuhan virus” and repeatedly pointing to China as the source of the pandemic.

In naming the disease COVID-19, the World Health Organization specifically avoided mentioning Wuhan. Yet in de-emphasizing where the epidemic began (something China has been aggressively pushing for), we run the risk of obscuring Beijing’s role in letting the disease spread beyond its borders. China has a history of mishandling outbreaks, including SARS in 2002 and 2003. But Chinese leaders’ negligence in December and January—for well over a month after the first outbreak in Wuhan—far surpasses those bungled responses. The end of last year was the time for authorities to act, and, as Nicholas D. Kristof of The New York Times has noted, “act decisively they did—not against the virus, but against whistle-blowers who were trying to call attention to the public health threat.”

This is what allowed the virus to spread across the globe. Because the Chinese Communist Party was pretending that there was little to be concerned about, Wuhan was a porous purveyor of the virus. The government only instituted a lockdown in Wuhan on January 23—seven weeks after the virus first appeared. As events in Italy, the United States, Spain, and France have shown, quite a lot can happen in a week, much less seven. By then, mayor Zhou Xianwang admitted that more than 5 million people had already left Wuhan.

If that weren’t enough, we can plumb recent history for an even more damning account. In a 2019 article, Chinese experts warned it was “highly likely that future SARS- or MERS-like coronavirus outbreaks will originate from bats, and there is an increased probability that this will occur in China.” In a 2007 journal article, infectious-disease specialists published a study arguing that “the presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb. The possibility of the reemergence of SARS and other novel viruses from animals or laboratories and therefore the need for preparedness should not be ignored.” It was ignored.

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When is China going to admit they screwed up royally?

From ‘Chinese virus’ to ‘Trumpandemic’ (RT)

Washington has passed off blame to Beijing for its own failures in addressing the Covid-19 outbreak, China’s Foreign Ministry said, hitting back at the ‘Chinese virus’ rhetoric with the ironic term ‘Trumpandemic.’ “Some people in the United States attempt to stigmatize China’s fight against the epidemic and shirk its responsibility to China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters on Friday, referring to the finger-pointing adopted by President Trump and other top officials (after weeks of US media outlets calling it the ‘Chinese’ and ‘Wuhan’ virus). “This practice ignores the huge sacrifices made by the Chinese people to safeguard human health and safety, and denigrates China’s major public health security contributions.”

Over the last two months, Beijing has helped the US buy time in its efforts to combat the coronavirus by providing “timely information” and other aid, the spokesman said, noting that the US president himself acknowledged as much during a press briefing last week. But most of that assistance has gone to waste, he lamented. “It is a pity, as many US media and specialists have noted, that the US has wasted the precious time China has bought.” Despite being the only country that has managed to contain the outbreak, China has been accused of suppressing information in the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak – which began in the city of Wuhan late last year. The spokesman insisted the country has taken “the most comprehensive, strictest and most thorough prevention and control measures,” and has been “open” and “transparent” about the virus.

Geng went on to list the numerous joint meetings between American and Chinese health officials in recent weeks, arguing Beijing was doing its part to assist the US response to the lethal illness, but implored Washington to take responsibility for its own shortcomings. “We hope that the United States will respect objective facts, respect international public opinion, do its own thing… stop slandering other countries, passing on responsibilities, and play a constructive role in fighting the epidemic,” he said. While President Trump argues that the phrase “Chinese virus” is “not racist at all,” stating that he uses the term simply because the pathogen “comes from China,” his insistence on the label has piqued the ire of Beijing. In a string of tweets earlier on Friday, Chinese state media outlet Xinhua slammed the moniker as bigoted, and fired back with its own Trumpian term of derision, renaming the outbreak the “Trumpandemic.”

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After cases exploded. It’s a pattern. New York has a very big problem.

Cuomo Orders New York Lockdown, Shuts Down Non-Essential Businesses (NYP)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered the Empire State to shut down and asked local businesses and manufactures to step up as officials mounted a desperate struggle to slow the corona≠virus pandemic. “I want to be able to say to the people of New York – I did everything we could do,” Cuomo told reporters at the state Capitol. “And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.” The restrictions take effect Sunday night at 8 p.m. and will shut down all nonessential businesses across the state, leaving just grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential operations open. All non-solitary outside activities, like basketball and other team sports are also banned.

The lockdown also requires all nonessential government and private-sector employees to work from home. Cuomo said the MTA will continue to run city subways, buses and Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains. The agency announced Friday it will allow backdoor boarding on local buses beginning Monday to help protect bus drivers from exposure “We have to do it, we have to be serious,” Cuomo said. “Everyone has personal freedom, and everyone has personal liberty, and I’ll always protect that,” he added. “But everyone also has a responsibility to everyone else.”

Laundromats and gas stations will be allowed to remain open, as will liquor stores and restaurants for take-out and delivery service only. Doctors’ and veterinarians’ offices can remain open, too. The new emergency action came as the Empire State’s coronavirus case count ballooned. Officials had tallied more than 7,100 cases across the state by 12 a.m. Friday — more than 4,400 in New York City. Just 10 hours later, the city Health Department reported the Big Apple’s case load had surged to more than 5,100 cases.

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Not friends, but working together. These people all recognize their own faults. They’re all 2-3 months late.

New Best Friends: Trump And Archfoes Cuomo And Newsom Bond (JTN) )

It’s often said that crises bring out the worst or the best in people. Adrift in a lifeboat at sea, strangers will either figure out how to cooperate, or kill and eat each other. It may be that the nation’s capital is being enveloped in a cloud of nice — instead of choosing the kill and eat option. President Trump suggested as much yesterday when he looked over a slightly-less-packed-than-usual press room. “I like this social distancing,” he mused. “I think it’s making you guys nicer. All these empty spaces … “You guys over there should probably move further from each other,” he said, flapping his hand at a few reporters, “but it’s nice”

The niceness cloud has also enveloped Trump and a couple of his legendary enemies: California Governor Gavin Newsom, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and President Trump have very recently become the Three Caballeros. At every press conference — and all three leaders are doing daily COVID-19 press updates — praise is bestowed and compliments showered. There are gratuitous namechecks — as with the lover who feels compelled just to repeat the name of the beloved — and many allusions to late night phone calls when details of policy are apparently being hashed out. In his press conference yesterday, for instance, as Trump detailed the FDA’s expedited approval of a new virus treatment, he managed to work in the news that he’d spoken with Cuomo “at great, great length last night; he wants to be first in line.”

Considering that he and the governor are now besties, Cuomo will probably in fact be first in line to get the prescription drug to his state’s consumers — just as he’s recently gotten everything on his virus wish list, from a national guard deployment to Westchester County, site of an early hot spot, to a mobile testing drive-through, also for Westchester, to an Army Corps of Engineers deployment, to a Navy hospital ship which will soon be docked in New York Harbor in case New York City runs out of hospital beds.

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Red alert at the DNC: “30% of Democrats approve, which is about double the number from last week’s poll..”

Trump’s Approval Rating Soars During Handling Of Coronavirus (JTN)

New polling Friday showed President Trump’s approval ratings among Americans have soared during the coronavirus crisis, including his handling of the pandemic response and the economy A new Axios-Harris poll, released Friday, showed the president with an 53 percent overall approval among U.S. adults surveyed March 17 and 18, compared to 49 percent among those polled March 14 and 15. 56 percent of respondents in the latest poll said they approved of the president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, an increase from 51 percent last week. And 60 percent of Americans this week said they approved of the president’s handling of the economy, a slight increase from 59 percent last week.

Despite stock market declines and rising unemployment figures released this week, the president’s approval rating for “Stimulating Jobs,” remained unchanged at 60 percent among both groups polled. When asked “Which of the following sources do you get your information from regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?” 44 percent of Americans named “The White House/President,” an increase of 11 points from the previous survey. Respondents naming “National media” fell to 53 percent from 55 percent, while those answering “Local media,” dropped to 51 percent from 57 percent. Additionally, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday found that 55 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, a double-digit increase in support from the week before.

“In the new poll, 55% of Americans approve of the president’s management of the crisis, compared to 43% who disapprove,” reported ABC’s Kendall Karson. “Trump’s approval on this issue is up from last week, when the numbers were nearly reversed.” The ABC/Ipsos poll also found “30% of Democrats approve, which is about double the number from last week’s poll, and 69% disapprove, down from 86%,” Karson wrote. “Meanwhile, an overwhelming 92% of Republicans approve, up from 86% last week. Only 8% disapprove, compared to 11% in last week’s poll.”

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The Dems of course can’t have Trump ratings rising, but pray tell, how are regular appearances of Biden going to counter that trend?

Biden Plans Shadow Coronavirus Briefings (Pol.)

Joe Biden is planning a regular shadow briefing on coronavirus to start as early as Monday to show how he would handle the crisis and address what he calls the lies and failures of President Trump. Biden gave a preview of what’s to come in a conference call with reporters Friday, where he listed a litany of false and misleading statements from Trump, who has been holding regular White House press conferences concerning coronavirus preparedness and response that have been broadcast live on all major networks. “President Trump stop saying false things, will ya?” Biden said. “People are worried they are really frightened, when these things don’t come through. He just exacerbates their concern. Stop saying false things you think make you sound like a hero and start putting the full weight of the federal government behind finding fast, safe and effective treatments.”

Biden made his comments from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has been holed up for more than a week in adherence with Centers for Disease Control guidelines that urge people to practice social distancing. Immediately after the initial onset of the crisis, Biden also held his fire against the president out of concern it would look too political — an accusation leveled at him anyway by Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, who said that “Biden will take attention from real updates Americans should know just to score political points.” Ever since his commanding victories Tuesday against Bernie Sanders in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, Biden has made no public appearances or statements. Instead, he said, he has been spending time privately talking to health officials, businesses, governors and members of Congress.

Now, he said, his house is being outfitted with equipment that would enable him to livestream events, have interactive tele-press conferences and broadcast interviews with network television.

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I’m suspicious of any cure or treatment announced, but I’m also curious to see how much coverage the US MSM will give to Cuba potentially saving American lives.

Cuba’s Interferon Alpha 2B, Successful in Treating COVID-19 (TeleSur)

For 40 years, Cuba has been using a molecule named Interferon Alpha 2B , which has successfully been used to combat the new Coonavirus in China and elsewhere. “The world has an opportunity to understand that health is not a commercial asset but a basic right,” Cuban doctor Luis Herrera, the creator of the Interferon Alfa 2-B medication, one of the most successful medications in the fight against COVID-19 told teleSUR Tuesday. Interferon has been known for more than 40 years: first, it was produced from original sources in local sites, then nationally and later in the United States and even Finland. “At the beginning of the 80s, an important professor from Houston came to Cuba and advised our President Fidel Castro than the Interferon we had here was a very interesting molecule for a different purpose,” Herrera told teleSUR.

“Then a group of people went to Finland to get training in the production of interferon,” while people were also producing Interferon from recombined sources using genetic engineering. The first one was Beta Interferon in Japan, and the second one was the family of Alpha Interferon by Genetec in California, according to the Cuban doctor. “One year later in Cuba, we cloned different genes of Interferon from local sites, and we started to produce Interferon in 1981 and 1982, which we used in the outbreak of dengue fever, and we presented the results in the United States in California.” One of the ways the virus can multiply inside the cells is by decreasing the levels of Interferon naturally produced in human cells. The molecule thus, through a different metabolic way, can create conditions to limit the replication of the virus.

During the MERS-CoV epidemic three years ago – another type of coronavirus – people realized that Interferon was decreased during the replication of the virus, highlighted Herrera. In China, practically a few weeks after the beginning of the outbreak, people started to use Interferon in a way to avoid complications in people infected with the virus. According to Herrera, this molecule has “some side effects but not too critical.” “The main idea of Interferon is just to avoid complications,” he told teleSUR. “Young people and people with a good immuno-response perhaps don’t need the medicine or people who won’t have complications and respond to the virus-like any other flu, but old people or people susceptible to have a bad immuno-response will have better chances of avoiding complications by using Interferon.”

https://twitter.com/nickylabour4eva/status/1240580660739391490

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The good doctor can’t keep himself from taking a jab at Trump. Pity. Nothing much else to say that we didn’t already know.

And as the graph shows, the mass testing that for instance South Korea is supposed to have done is not quite what it’s made out to be. 0.6% of the population is not that.

The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming (Wired)

Larry Brilliant says he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like. At the time, it sounded almost too horrible to take seriously. “A billion people would get sick,” he said. “As many as 165 million people would die. There would be a global recession and depression, and the cost to our economy of $1 to $3 trillion would be far worse for everyone than merely 100 million people dying, because so many more people would lose their jobs and their health care benefits, that the consequences are almost unthinkable.”

Now the unthinkable is here, and Brilliant, the Chairman of the board of Ending Pandemics, is sharing expertise with those on the front lines. We are a long way from 100 million deaths due to the novel coronavirus, but it has turned our world upside down. Brilliant is trying not to say “I told you so” too often. But he did tell us so, not only in talks and writings, but as the senior technical advisor for the pandemic horror film Contagion, now a top streaming selection for the homebound. Besides working with the World Health Organization in the effort to end smallpox, Brilliant, who is now 75, has fought flu, polio, and blindness; once led Google’s nonprofit wing, Google.org; co-founded the conferencing system the Well; and has traveled with the Grateful Dead.

[..] When will we be able to leave the house and go back to work? I have a very good retrospect-oscope, but what’s needed right now as a prospecto-scope. If this were a tennis match, I would say advantage virus right now. But there’s really good news from South Korea—they had less than 100 cases today. China had more cases imported than it had from continuous transmission from Wuhan today. The Chinese model will be very hard for us to follow. We’re not going to be locking people up in their apartments, boarding them up. But the South Korea model is one that we could follow. Unfortunately, it requires doing the proportionate number of tests that they did—they did well over a quarter of a million tests. In fact, by the time South Korea had done 200,000 tests, we had probably done less than 1,000.

Now that we’ve missed the opportunity for early testing, is it too late for testing to make a difference? Absolutely not. Tests would make a measurable difference. We should be doing a stochastic process random probability sample of the country to find out where the hell the virus really is. Because we don’t know. Maybe Mississippi is reporting no cases because it’s not looking. How would they know? Zimbabwe reports zero cases because they don’t have testing capability, not because they don’t have the virus. We need something that looks like a home pregnancy test, that you can do at home.

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The neocons are not amused.

Pentagon Sends 2,600 Europe-based Personnel Into Quarantine (RT)

Thousands of US troops and military staff based in Europe have been ordered into self-isolation after at least 35 of them tested positive for Covid-19, further complicating Washington’s power projection across the Atlantic.
Some 2,600 European Command (EUCOM) troops and personnel were isolated on Friday in an effort to stem the spread of the lethal virus, following nearly three dozen positive test results. The Defense Department noted that the troops quarantined were not ill, but were isolated as a precaution due to recent travel, among other reasons. “These individuals are not necessarily sick, but may have been exposed and are doing their due diligence following health preventative measures,” the Pentagon said in a statement.


EUCOM commander, US Air Force General Tod Wolters, told reporters earlier about the positive tests, adding that all 72,000 of his troops were taking measures to avoid further exposure to the illness. “We’re preparing for worst-case scenarios with respect to the potential spread,” Wolters said in a teleconference from EUCOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. “For months, we have embraced precautionary measures.” The Pentagon did not clarify how it planned to isolate the 2,600 personnel, however. The quarantine comes as several branches of the US armed services struggle to contain the coronavirus, especially on board the crowded Navy vessels. The USS ‘Boxer’ became the first ship to confirm more than one infected sailor earlier this week, prompting the crew to adopt what it called an “aggressive mitigation strategy.”

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The CEO delays receiving many millions so the company will receive many billions, which will then be used to pay the CEO additional many millions. File under Business Model.

Boeing Suspends Dividend, Halts Buybacks, Stops Paying CEO And Chairman (Y!)

Boeing says its CEO and its chairman will forgo all pay until the end of the year — and that’s just one of the steps the company is taking to ensure that it weathers the financial effects of the coronavirus epidemic. CEO David Calhoun and Board Chairman Larry Kellner were named to their current positions last December, as part of a corporate house-cleaning related to the past year’s 737 MAX crisis. Calhoun was due to receive a base annual salary of $1.4 million and was eligible for millions more in performance-based payments and stock options. Kellner was getting an annual cash retainer of $250,000 and was eligible for other compensation.


Boeing said it was also suspending its dividend and extending its current pause on stock buybacks until further notice. “Boeing is drawing on all of its resources to sustain operations, support its workforce and customers, and maintain supply chain continuity through the COVID-19 crisis and for the long term,” the company said in a statement. The move came after former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said she was resigning from Boeing’s board of directors to protest the company’s request for at least $60 billion in federal support. The company’s shares have plunged from a 52-week high of $398.66 to today’s closing value of $95.01, primarily due to the virus outbreak. This week, President Donald Trump told reporters that “we have to protect Boeing” but also voiced his disdain of stock buybacks.

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What are words worth?

National Guard Chief Denies Rumors Of Martial Law Response To Virus (Solomon)

The National Guard has deployed a few thousand troops to help states hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, but it wants Americans to know that rumors of impending martial law are blatantly false. One of the Guard’s top generals tweeted out that assurance Friday as officials blamed misinformation and propaganda campaigns for the false rumor. “I hear unfounded rumors about #NationalGuard troops supporting a nationwide quarantine,” wrote Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “Let me be clear: There has been no such discussion.” From New York to Wisconsin, National Guard troops have been deployed to several states to provide assistance that ranges from sterilizing public areas to delivering needed supplies. Those missions are likely to continue for some time.

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“Sovereign immunity”, no less. Carte blanche for any and all surveillance, on peers, journalists, lawyers? Does that sound okay to anyone at all, other than Schiff?

Schiff Claims ‘Immunity’ To Keep Impeachment Phone Subpoenas Secret (JTN)

The House Intelligence Committee and its chairman Adam Schiff invoked “sovereign immunity” in a motion to dismiss a Judicial Watch lawsuit seeking to obtain controversial phone records subpoenas issued during the Trump impeachment inquiry. The committee’s subpoenas of phone records ultimately led to the publication of multiple Americans’ phone records, including those of reporter John Solomon, California Rep. Devin Nunes, the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others. In the motion, lawyers from the Office of General Counsel for the House of Representatives assert four reasons for dismissing the case, including protection under the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.

“First, the doctrine of sovereign immunity deprives the Court of jurisdiction over the House Defendants, and no express and unequivocal waiver exists,” the argument says. “Second, given that the records sought by Plaintiff involve matters pursued and obtained by the House Defendants as part of the House-authorized impeachment inquiry, they are absolutely protected by the Speech or Debate Clause.”

“Third, Plaintiff fails to state a claim because Congress has created a comprehensive scheme for the review of government records—the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)—that preempts the common law right sought to be vindicated by this litigation,” the lawyers write. “Finally, under governing case law, the records Plaintiff seeks to review are not ‘public records’ and, therefore, are not subject to the common law right of public access. And even if the records are ‘public records,’ Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the House Defendants’ interest in non-disclosure.”

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“His role was not the good father, it was the half-crazy old uncle in the attic..”

Strength and Weakness (Kunstler)

Yes, he is peculiar-looking: the strange blond helmet, the orange face. Note, back in one of America’s earlier hard times, a lot people thought Mr. Lincoln looked like a great ape, and had much sport with that image of him in the newspapers. It’s also a fact that the decisions he made led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of mostly young men in the bloodiest slaughters then imaginable. Yet those young men going to their deaths called him Father Abraham in their songs around the campfire. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is another Lincoln — certainly not in sheer rhetoric — but I am saying we don’t know yet what his mettle will show in this crisis, and where it might take us. One thing for sure: he’s been subjected to more political abuse than any character on-the-scene in my lifetime, and it’s amazing that he didn’t fold or quit or lose his shit as it went on and on and on.

And so, you now have the strange and ironic spectacle of his organized opposition, the Democrats, hoisting up onto their pinnacle of leadership absolutely the weakest candidate possible to oppose Mr. Trump in the election: Joe Biden. There was something certainly supernatural about his ascent in the recent cluster of primaries, as if some gang of someones worked strenuously behind the scenes to make it happen. If Mr. Biden ever had any charisma even in his prime as a young senator, there was no sign of that now, either in his own bumbling behavior or in the sparse crowds that were flushed out of the DNC’s voter registration thickets to show up at his rallies. In fact, he emanated the exact opposite of charisma, a faltering flop-sweat odor of weakness, and of every kind of weakness: physical, mental, and ethical.

His role was not the good father, it was the half-crazy old uncle in the attic — the kind who puts on his threadbare best suit every day to go down to a corner bar and sip beers until it’s time to stagger back home, where a dutiful niece-in-law might give him supper, if he could manage to ask for it politely. The kind who, until his forced retirement due to incompetence and blundering, had worked as an errand boy for the local mob, picking up receipts from the numbers racket, and was then cast off like a banana peel in a drainage ditch when his usefulness ended.

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CoronaBonds are one way, sure. But if you take the salary pressure away from companies by having the government pay 50-70% of them, would you still need to bailout companies, or would you be only subsidizing zombies?

CoronaBonds To Hold The Payments System Together (Steve Keen)

The coronavirus could cause the financial system to collapse unless something is done to enable basic payments to continue during the fight against it. While some businesses are doing very well out of it—toilet paper and hand sanitizer produces come to mind—many, if not most, could collapse as their sales collapse and/or their workers become unable to turn up to work. Workers—especially those in the jovially-named “gig economy”—will be unable to pay their rents and mortgages. If we insist on these payments being honoured, mass bankruptcy could result that could take viable companies down with it—even toilet roll producers. So what to do? The answer is fundamentally simple: the Treasury issues “Coronabonds” that raise a substantial sum—enough to cover say 3 months of standard mortgage, rent and food payments for an average family.


These Coronabonds could be priced at zero percent yield: interest rates are at that level anyway, and given the current stockmarket carnage, financial corporations would jump at the opportunity to park their money in an asset that won’t fall in value. Using the US Economy as our template, let’s say that $1 trillion of these bonds were issued. They would then be bought by the financial sector—raising $1 trillion to be spend by the government on tenants, mortgagees and firms. The cost to the Treasury would be zero because that would be the yield of the bonds. The public debt would rise, but it would be debt carrying no servicing costs.

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Good friend Steve Keen “escaped” to Thailand.

Personal Coronavirus Update 02 March 21st 2019 (Steve Keen)

As I noted in my first update, I had decided that for both medical and visa reasons, the best place to be during the Coronavirus crisis was Thailand. Outside of China (the epicentre of this crisis), the world’s governments have been dominated by the Neoliberal emphasis upon efficiency, with a total ignorance of the need for resilience as well in a complex system. I didn’t expect any of them to be able to respond effectively as this exponential crisis exploded, so the safest thing was to go for the highest level of social isolation possible—and southern Thailand, below the major tourist spots, made sense on that ground alone. There was also nascent research implying that heat and humidity slow the spread of the virus. This is from the abstract for the paper: “One degree Celsius increase in temperature and one percent increase in relative humidity lower R by 0.0383 and 0.0224, respectively.”

I had already started to make this inference from the statistics from the John Hopkins University site. Thailand began with the second highest number of cases to China, but the number of cases rose far more slowly than in the rest of the world. On January 31st, Thailand had 19 cases, while Australia had 9, the Netherlands zero, and the UK 2. The Netherlands recorded its first cases on February 27th, finishing the day with 2 cases; by this stage, Australia had 23 cases, the UK 15 and Thailand was still far higher at 40 cases. However, as of March 19th, Australia had about 700 cases, The Netherlands and the UK about 2500 each, and Thailand had under 250. This time series plot from my soon-to-be-released program Ravel illustrates the divergence of Thai data from the rest of the world—or rather the three other countries where I could have considered living

during this crisis.

[..] My partner and I arrived in Bangkok on Thursday March 19th, one day before Thailand started closing its border to non-nationals (my partner is a Thai citizen, though she hasn’t lived here for over 25 years). One day later, and I would have had to continue on my own to Australia, which is mishandling this crisis as impressively as any other Western government. Even Thai tourists are thin on the ground now, as Thailand has wisely cancelled its annual Thai New Year holiday and festival. We went to a popular beach yesterday looking for potential places to stay for a year, and it was almost empty. We’re now looking for a house to rent here, for the year that I think it will take before there’s any prospect of a post-Covid-19 “normal” developing.

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If you read us, please support us. Help the Automatic Earth survive.

 

Mar 182020
 


Matson Aircraft refueling at Semakh, British Mandate Palestine 1931

 

Global Powers Unleash Trillions Of Dollars To Stem Coronavirus Crisis (R.)
We’re at a Real Risk of Financial Markets Being Closed – Bianco (NZZ)
The Lesson (Henrich)
Boeing Seeks ‘Tens Of Billions’ In Bailouts (ZH)
Hotel Industry To Ask Trump For $150 Billion In Aid (LAT)
American Indian Casinos Close For Coronavirus, Seek $18 Billion Aid (R.)
Mnuchin Warns Senators Of 20% US Unemployment Without Coronavirus Rescue (R.)
18% Of US Workers Have Lost Jobs Or Hours Since Coronavirus Hit (LAT)
COVID-19 Pandemic Could Continue For 2 YEARS – German Health Expert (RT)
New Coronavirus Can Persist In Air For Hours And On Surfaces For Days (R.)
Australian Scientists Map How Immune System Fights Virus (BBC)
A Coronavirus Outbreak In Jails Or Prisons Could Turn Into A Nightmare (Vox)
Cyprus Bans Flights From 28 Countries From March 21 (R.)
Beijing Tells NYT, WSJ, WaPo Journalists To Hand In Credentials (RT)

 

 

It is truly great to see that over the past 10 days or so, millions of coronavirus experts worldwide have come out of hiding whose existence we knew nothing about beforehand. We at the Automatic Earth have been following the virus for well over 2 months, and not only do we still not understand as much as all these experts, we even contradict ourselves and each other from time to time. With all the new expert knowledge and -especially- opinions, no doubt the crisis will be solved real soon now.

 

When I started working very early this working, one of the first things I saw was this from Reuters. Which shows, while for instance Worldometer still had total deaths at 7,915, a 8,410+ number. Somehow it feels too specific for just a random mistake. Worldometer now says 8,010, so there is an increase, but not nearly as much.

 

 

Do note, however, that both cases and deaths are up by much larger numbers in the past 24 hours than ever before…

 

Cases 202,270 (+ 18,137 from yesterday’s 184,133)

Deaths 8,012 (+ 830 from yesterday’s 7,182)

 

These numbers, too, are rising relentlessly.

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate is now at 9%!- (Note: some call this rate “misleading”, but that can by definition only be true if you don’t know the parameters. Worldometer is very clear: the death rate is part of Closed Cases, not All Cases. You may argue that Active Cases should be part of the equation, but that would only insert uncertainty into the number. Neither Worldometer nor I imply that 9% will be the ultimate fatality rate, just that at present it’s the rate among Closed Cases.)

 

 

From SCMP: (Note: the SCMP graph was useful when China was the focal point; they are falling behind now)

 

 

From COVID2019.app: (New format lacks new cases and deaths)

 

 

 

 

Somebody found a money tree. Or, rather, one in every country.

Global Powers Unleash Trillions Of Dollars To Stem Coronavirus Crisis (R.)

The world’s richest nations prepared more costly measures on Tuesday to combat the global fallout of the coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands of people, triggered social restrictions unseen since World War Two and sent economies spinning toward recession. With the highly contagious respiratory disease that originated in China racing across the world to infect more than 196,000 people so far, governments on every continent have implemented draconian containment measures from halting travel to stopping sporting events and religious gatherings. While the main aim is to avoid deaths – currently at over 7,800 – global powers were also focusing on how to limit the inevitably devastating economic impact.

In the world’s biggest economy, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed pumping $1 trillion into the market. Trump wants to send cash to Americans within two weeks as the country’s death toll approached 100 and more testing sent the number of coronavirus cases to over 5,700. Airlines are among the worst-hit sector, with U.S. carriers seeking at least $50 billion in grants and loans to stay afloat as passenger numbers evaporate. Britain, which has told people to avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas and theaters, unveiled a 330 billion pounds ($400 billion) rescue package for businesses threatened with collapse. Budget forecasters said the scale of borrowing needed might resemble the vast amount of debt taken on during the 1939-1945 war against Nazi Germany.

“Now is not a time to be squeamish about public sector debt,” Robert Chote, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, which provides independent analysis of the UK’s public finances, told lawmakers. France is to pump 45 billion euros ($50 billion) of crisis measures into its economy to help companies and workers, with output expected to contract 1% this year. “I have always defended financial rigor in peacetime so that France does not have to skimp on its budget in times of war,” Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin was quoted as saying by financial daily Les Echos. The European Union eased its rules to allow companies to receive state grants up to 500,000 euros ($551,000) or guarantees on bank loans to ensure liquidity.

But even with the promised cash splurges, world stock markets and oil prices were unable to shake off their coronavirus nightmare after Wall Street on Monday saw its worst rout since the Black Monday crash of 1987. The Philippines was the first country to close markets, while Europe – now the epicenter of the pandemic – saw airline and travel stocks plunge another 7%.

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Central banks have run out of tools. Philippines the first to close markets altogether.

We’re at a Real Risk of Financial Markets Being Closed – Bianco (NZZ)

Mr. Bianco, the Federal Reserve takes massive emergency actions. What does this mean for financial markets? The Central Banks went all in. They fired all of their ammunition and they’ve got only one goal in mind: They have to stop the decline in financial markets. This started late last week with the Fed’s giant repo operation. You can also throw in the announcements of the ECB and the Bank of Japan. Plus, we have the extraordinary actions taken by European governments to stem the effects of the pandemic. The government of Germany for instance is basically guaranteeing everybody’s job.

However, investors don’t seem convinced. What’s going to happen if markets drop further? Central Banks need to stop the stock market from falling through last week’s low. I believe if markets fall through those levels and keep going down, the so-called Fed Put is dead. It doesn’t work anymore, so quit trying to find new ways to exercise it. Just understand Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

What are the ramifications if the Fed Put doesn’t work anymore? Central Banks will need to move on. So if stocks make new lows we’re at a real risk of financial markets being closed. The Fed and other Central Banks have fired all their ammunition and if markets crash through last week’s lows, there’s nothing left. The Fed can’t buy equities outright without a change of the Federal Reserve Act. It would take weeks for Congress to do that. Even if Congress moves with lightning speed it will take them at least a week, and it will be over before that.

What would be the benefit of closing markets? It took the stock market sixteen trading days to drop by 27% from the all-time highs to Thursday’s lows. We have never seen anything close to that in history. The closest we’ve ever been in history was 1929, when it took 42 days to get from the all-time highs to a 20% correction. The speed in this decline is unprecedented.

Why is it so important to stop this crash? If it continues, you will get margin calls, involuntary liquidation. Markets will lose their ability to price securities, especially things like high yield bonds and emerging markets securities. Funds in those areas will be unavailable for people to redeem because they won’t have any prices. There will be trapped money. Also, you will get broken covenants in the corporate debt area, and that will force changes of control or restructurings. But the biggest damage will be that pensions will become underfunded. Companies will be forced to pony up billions of Dollars to get their pensions back into funding.

[..] You’re been in the investment business for a long time and have seen quite a few crashes. How do you experience this crisis personally? This is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetime. What’s going on in financial markets today exceeds the financial crisis of 2008, it exceeds 9/11, it exceeds the tech peak, and it exceeds the 1987 crash. Maybe 1929 is still bigger, but few of us were alive then. We’re writing a new chapter for American and world history textbooks. We’re only a few pages into it, and we’re not sure how it will end, but our grandchildren will one day learn school about the great pandemic of 2020 and what it meant for world history.

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“What I’m opposed to is the hype, hypocrisy and excess that has preceded it. People got greedy, they piled into stocks at ungodly valuations. Companies that didn’t save or prepare for a crisis, instead were focused on short term market gains to juice up their stock prices. Companies such as Boeing that cut corners and blew money on buybacks for financial engineering purposes to enrich upper management and shareholders. I say screw them..”

The Lesson (Henrich)

The lesson of it all? The lesson is that lessons are not being learned. Of course the human species has an ingrained problem: We are all born with a blank sheet and have to learn everything from scratch. It would be helpful though if the elders could pass lessons from past mistakes on to the new generation. But no. So we keep making the same stupid mistakes. And here we are. Just four weeks after all time highs in markets America is again turning into bailout nation. Yes coronavirus is an unforeseen shock. So what? We’re supposed to handle a shock. We’re supposed to be prepared. We’re supposed to have savings and great balance sheets.


After an 11 year recovery and market bull run based on cheap and easy money shouldn’t things be great and shouldn’t we be well prepared for the next downturn? Is that really too much to ask? Apparently. We can’t even go 4 weeks without the Fed going apeshit on cutting rates to zero, launching $700B in QE, making discount windows available and launching $500B, even trillion dollar repos. We can’t even go 4 weeks without the government launching a proposed $850B stimulus package, tax cuts, free money checks of $1,000 to Americans and suggesting bailouts for $BA and $GE. That’s how fragile things are. They must be, otherwise the system would be able to handle a temporary shock. But it can’t. Why? Well for one our supposed great economy ever has the vast majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck:

That’s a systemic problem. Sure you can blame people for living beyond their means, but in general most people just don’t have the income power to keep abreast with rising medial costs, home prices and all the other fun inflationary items that the Fed simply doesn’t count as inflation. How ignorant they are. PCE deflator. Please. And then of course the same lesson again not learned that keeps repeating ahead of every bust: Greed and more greed. When has it ever been a good idea to chase stocks to 150% market cap to GDP or even higher? The answer is never. Yet they convinced themselves and others that it’s different this time. New flash: It wasn’t. A lesson not learned and yet they did it. The chart was screaming unsutainability. And here we are 4 weeks later, yesterday closing at 109.5% market cap to GDP:

Reversion to the mean. And it could eventually get much worse. I showed this chart in Bull Cliff in February and I stated: “Investors keep piling money into this historically priced market….Central banks can deny all they want that they are not responsible for asset price inflation, but everybody knows better. The denials are not only hollow they are straight out lies. And having created the Pavlovian effect we now see in the investment community they are leading investors to abandon all sense of risk when risks are mounting ever more around us as valuations and earnings multiples keep expanding as a result of monetary policy. And hence it may be said that central bankers may be leading investors off the cliff.”


[..] I’m not opposed to the government stepping in to help in an emergency. That’s why we have government. What I’m opposed to is the hype, hypocrisy and excess that has preceded it. People got greedy, they piled into stocks at ungodly valuations. Companies that didn’t save or prepare for a crisis, instead were focused on short term market gains to juice up their stock prices. Companies such as Boeing that cut corners and blew money on buybacks for financial engineering purposes to enrich upper management and shareholders. I say screw them. If you don’t learn the lessons of the past then live with the consequences. And who pays ultimately for the consequences? We’ve seen this movie before

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Even Tyler Durden vehemently disagrees. But this is major military supplier Boeing.

Boeing Seeks ‘Tens Of Billions’ In Bailouts (ZH)

In its latest 8K, the plunging planemaker has completely drawn down its $13.8 billion credit line that it entered in October 2018 as it “navigates current business challenges” exposing just how fast this company is burning through cash. [..] This comes just hours after sources told Reuters that Boeing is seeking a bailout of ‘tens of billions’ in US government loan guarantees amid the Covid-19 crisis.[..] As we raged previously, this bailout demand comes after the company blew nearly $100 billion on stock buybacks since 2013 helping push its stock to all-time highs not that long ago, and instead of selling stock to get liquidity, they’re asking the Trump administration for a massive bailout.

So, no, nobody in their right minds should give Boeing even one penny in “short term aid”. Instead, management and the board should be ordered to sell as much stock as they need – you know, the opposite of buying it back – to maintain the business, even it means sending the stock price crashing far lower. Because it’s called capitalism, and because there is no reason why taxpayers should foot the bill for a company which instead of saving cash when times were good, was handing it out to shareholders and a handful of executives, and which should now for some insane reason be eligible for a bailout when times suddenly go bad. No: force Boeing – and others like it that spent billions repurchasing its stock while incurring massive amounts of debt – to sell its stock.

After all that’s what a public company’s stock is – a currency – and just as Boeing could repurchase it when it had cash, and lifted its stock price to all time highs, it should now sell its stock and use the proceeds to fund itself, like any other corporation does when it needs funding. Last time we checked, Boeing’s market cap was $73 billion, and it certainly afford to drop much more as the company now does the buyback in reverse. This is also a warning to Congress and the White House: if chronic stock repurchasers such as Boeing, are bailed out instead of ordered to find their own sources of liquidity, there will be a mutiny in America and rightfully so, because it was Boeing’s shareholders that got rich on the way up, and now it is somehow up to taxpayers to make sure the company, loaded up with record amounts of debt used to fund buybacks, survives one more quarter. That, in a word, is bullshit.

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We have this opportunity to get the rotten apples out, but are we going to use it?

Hotel Industry To Ask Trump For $150 Billion In Aid (LAT)

Staggered by the coronavirus outbreak, the lodging industry requested $150 billion in aid from the Trump administration Tuesday as Marriott International announced plans to furlough tens of thousands of workers. After a White House meeting with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, hotel industry leaders said the virus outbreak is on pace to cause a bigger economic hit than the 2001 terrorist strikes and the 2008-09 recession combined. In addition to the $150 billion requested by the hotel industry, other sectors of the travel industry — such as convention centers, theme parks and tour companies — have requested $100 billion in funding to overcome the crisis, said Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Assn., the trade group for the country’s travel industry.


That is on top of the $58 billion in aid requested Monday by the airline industry to overcome a surge in flight cancellations amid new travel restrictions. Without federal aid to the travel and lodging industries, the U.S. could lose as many as 4 million jobs in 2020, pushing the unemployment rate from 3.3% to 6.3% across the country, Dow said. Hotel occupancy rates were around 80% a few weeks ago but are now 10% to 20% in the busiest cities of the country, Chip Rogers, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Assn., said in a conference call with reporters. The federal aid, he said, has been requested in the form of grants to keep workers employed until the crisis subsides. Details about how the money would be disbursed had yet to be decided, Rogers said.

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Should casinos be bailed out? Or only those owed by Native Americans?

American Indian Casinos Close For Coronavirus, Seek $18 Billion Aid (R.)

The Native American gaming industry on Tuesday requested $18 billion in U.S. federal aid as it shut casinos that are the sole source of commercial revenue for dozens of tribes in a bid to slow the coronavirus epidemic. Tribal governments will be unable to provide health and education services and will default on loans unless they get federal support to make up for lost casino money, the National Indian Gaming Association said in a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. “Providing the means for tribal governments to continue paying all employees’ salaries and benefits will immensely help this country recover,” according to the letter addressed to Representatives Deb Haaland and Tom Cole of the House Native American Caucus.


The United States’ roughly 460 Indian casinos are in the process of closing given the threat of coronavirus to tribal members and many non-Native American employees. Tribes are sovereign nations but are following advice from U.S. states and the federal government to slow the virus’ spread. That means shutting American Indian casinos which employ a combined 700,000-plus people directly and indirectly and generated over $37 billion in 2017, making them the largest segment of the U.S. gaming industry, according to the association.

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Frances Coppola: “Demand is falling because of virus control measures. Giving people money to spend (above their normal income) while simultaneously making it impossible for them to spend it is absurd.”

Mnuchin Warns Senators Of 20% US Unemployment Without Coronavirus Rescue (R.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Republican senators on Tuesday that the country’s unemployment rate could hit 20% if they failed to act on a proposed coronavirus rescue package and there was lasting economic damage, a person familiar with the closed-door meeting said. Mnuchin met with senators to persuade them to pass a $1 trillion stimulus package that would send cash to Americans within two weeks and backstop airlines and other companies. The Senate is majority-controlled by President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans. A Treasury official said Mnuchin was not providing a forecast but trying to illustrate the potential risks of inaction.


“During the meeting with Senate Republicans today, Secretary Mnuchin used several mathematical examples for illustrative purposes, but he never implied this would be the case,” Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley said in an emailed statement. The warning was similar to one issued to U.S. lawmakers at the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke went to Capitol Hill to urge passage of a $700 billion plan to buy toxic mortgage assets.

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“56% of Americans considered the coronavirus outbreak a “real threat,” while 38% said it was “blown out of proportion.”

18% Of US Workers Have Lost Jobs Or Hours Since Coronavirus Hit (LAT)

As fallout from the coronavirus pandemic hits the economy, it’s slamming the American workforce: Some 18% of adults reported that they had been laid off or that their work hours had been cut, a new poll found. The proportion affected grew for lower-income households, with 25% of those making less than $50,000 a year reporting that they had been let go or had their hours reduced, according to a survey released Tuesday by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist of 835 working adults in the contiguous United States. The poll was conducted Friday and Saturday, just after stocks began their steep plunge and normal life started grinding to a halt, with schools and places of worship closing, concerts and conferences being canceled and sports leagues suspending their seasons. The same poll found that about 56% of Americans considered the coronavirus outbreak a “real threat,” while 38% said it was “blown out of proportion.”

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Couldn’t we all make this prediction? It depends on 1001 variables. Who needs an expert for this?

COVID-19 Pandemic Could Continue For 2 YEARS – German Health Expert (RT)

A senior German disease control expert has warned that the coronavirus pandemic could continue for two years, depending on how long it takes for an effective vaccine to be developed and if people develop immunity after illness. Speaking on Tuesday, the Robert Kock Institut’s (RKI) president, Prof. Lothar Wieler, said pandemics tend to run their course in waves, and factors influencing how it unfolds from this point include how many people become immune to it after contracting the virus – and how quickly a vaccine is made. The RKI, a German federal agency responsible for disease control and prevention, on Tuesday raised the country’s threat level from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic from ‘moderate’ to ‘high’.

It said the revision comes in light of the continuing increase in new infections of the rapidly-spreading virus, which originated in China late last year and whose symptoms range from fever to serious respiratory illness. Germany has recorded over 7,900 cases of Covid-19 to date, with 20 deaths. New research from RKI scientists and the Helios clinic group also says that the novel coronavirus can more seriously afflict adults aged under 60 who have no underlying health conditions than similar patients suffering severe pneumonia in the regular flu season.

Although countries around the globe have largely stepped up measures to counter the spread of the virus, including border closures, shutting schools and limiting mass gatherings, Covid-19 cases outside of China recently surpassed the total figure recorded inside the country that had, until now, suffered the worst of the outbreak. Italy, in particular, is struggling with the pandemic and recorded a larger single-day number of deaths last weekend than China did at the worst of the peak there.

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I thought we already knew that, but the article is dated the 17th.

New Coronavirus Can Persist In Air For Hours And On Surfaces For Days (R.)

The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness called COVID-19. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, attempted to mimic the virus deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects. They used a device to dispense an aerosol that duplicated the microscopic droplets created in a cough or a sneeze.

The scientists then investigated how long SARS-CoV-2 remained infectious on these surfaces, according to the study that appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday – a day in which U.S. COVID-19 cases surged past 5,200 and deaths approached 100. The tests show that when the virus is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, it remains viable, or able to still infect people, in aerosols for at least three hours. On plastic and stainless steel, viable virus could be detected after three days. On cardboard, the virus was not viable after 24 hours. On copper, it took 4 hours for the virus to become inactivated.= In terms of half-life, the research team found that it takes about 66 minutes for half the virus particles to lose function if they are in an aerosol droplet.

That means that after another hour and six minutes, three quarters of the virus particles will be essentially inactivated but 25% will still be viable. The amount of viable virus at the end of the third hour will be down to 12.5%, according to the research led by Neeltje van Doremalen of the NIAID’s Montana facility at Rocky Mountain Laboratories. On stainless steel, it takes 5 hours 38 minutes for half of the virus particles to become inactive. On plastic, the half-life is 6 hours 49 minutes, researchers found. On cardboard, the half-life was about three and a half hours, but the researchers said there was a lot of variability in those results “so we advise caution” interpreting that number.

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Encouraging, but looks like a long time option.

Australian Scientists Map How Immune System Fights Virus (BBC)

Scientists in Australia say they have identified how the body’s immune system fights the Covid-19 virus. Their research, published in Nature Medicine journal on Tuesday, shows people are recovering from the new virus like they would from the flu. Determining which immune cells are appearing should also help with vaccine development, experts say. “This [discovery] is important because it is the first time where we are really understanding how our immune system fights novel coronavirus,” said study co-author Prof Katherine Kedzierska. The research by Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity has been praised by other experts, with one calling it “a breakthrough”.


Many people have recovered from Covid-19, meaning it was already known that the immune system can successfully fight the virus. But for the first time, the research identified four types of immune cells which presented to fight Covid-19. They were observed by tracking a patient who had a mild-to-moderate case of the virus and no previous health issues. The 47-year-old woman from Wuhan, China, had presented to hospital in Australia. She recovered within 14 days. Prof Kedzierska told the BBC her team had examined the “whole breadth of the immune response” in this patient. Three days before the woman began to improve, specific cells were spotted in her bloodstream. In influenza patients, these same cells also appear around this time before recovery, Prof Kedzierska said.


Chest scans showed the patient’s lungs clearing after immune cells appeared

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Iran has released 54,000 + 85,000 prisoners “temporarily”.

A Coronavirus Outbreak In Jails Or Prisons Could Turn Into A Nightmare (Vox)

The next site of a deadly coronavirus outbreak may not be a cruise ship, conference, or school. It could be one of America’s thousands of jails or prisons. Just about all the concerns about coronavirus’s spread in packed social settings apply as much, if not more, to correctional settings. In a prison, multiple people can be placed in one cell. Hallways and gathering places are often small and tight (often deliberately so, to make it easier to control inmates). There is literally no escape, with little to no space for social distancing or similar recommendations experts make to combat coronavirus. Hand sanitizer can be contraband.

Such an outbreak could not only infect and kill hundreds or thousands of people in prison, but potentially spread to nearby communities as well. Visitors and correctional staff could spread the disease when they go back home, and inmates could spread it when they’re released. Even an outbreak contained within a jail or prison could strain nearby health care systems, as hundreds or thousands of people suddenly need medical care that jails and prisons themselves can’t provide. So if you want to “flatten the curve” to spread out the illness and avoid overwhelming health care systems, experts say, you should worry about coronavirus in prisons and jails.

In the US, the concern is particularly acute because America puts so many people in jail or prison. The US locks up about 2.3 million people on any given day — the highest prison and jail population of any country in the world. With an incarceration rate of 655 per 100,000 people, the US locks up people at nearly twice the rate of Russia, more than five times that of China, more than six times Canada and France, nearly nine times Germany, and almost 17 times Japan. “We can learn what works in terms of mitigation from other countries who have seen spikes in coronavirus already, but none of those countries have the level of incarceration that we have in the United States,” Tyler Winkelman, a doctor and researcher at the University of Minnesota focused on health care and criminal justice, told me.

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While France and Germany go out of their way to keep EU (Schengen) borders open, EU member Cyprus says no.

Cyprus Bans Flights From 28 Countries From March 21 (R.)

Cyprus on Tuesday announced a two-week ban on flights from 28 countries, including Britain and Greece, to curb the coronavirus outbreak. The measure will come into effect from 0100 GMT on March 21 for a 14-day period, an official statement said. It does not affect cargo flights. The island has already enacted stringent entry requirements, effective from March 16, barring anyone into the island, including Cypriots, without a medical certificate that they are clear of coronavirus. Those who do arrive are placed in compulsory quarantine in a government-supervised facility for two weeks. The east Mediterranean island has reported 49 cases of coronavirus.


Australia’s DFAT travel advisory map has been updated. Every country in the world is labelled “Do Not Travel”, for the first time ever.

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Best friends.

Beijing Tells NYT, WSJ, WaPo Journalists To Hand In Credentials (RT)

China is pulling the press credentials of US journalists from outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post whose passes expire in 2020, in the latest move of an ongoing tit-for-tat with America over media access. In a statement about China’s “countermeasures against US suppression of Chinese media organizations in the United States,” Beijing announced that American reporters working for the NYT, Wall Street Journal, Voice of America, Time and the Washington Post whose credentials are due to expire by the end of this year must hand them over within 10 days. These reporters will also not be allowed to work in China – including Hong Kong and Macau – in the future, and other US journalists will face new visa restrictions similar to those Washington recently introduced for Chinese reporters.


“In view of the US’ discriminatory restrictions on visas, administrative review, and interviews of Chinese journalists, China will take reciprocal measures against US journalists,” it added. The back-and-forth expulsions of journalists started in February, when Chinese authorities gave three Wall Street Journalists five days to leave the country after Beijing objected to an opinion piece in the outlet calling China the “real sick man of Asia.” The paper refused to apologize for the piece. Shortly afterwards, the US dramatically reduced the number of journalists it would permit to work for four Chinese state-owned media companies inside the US, cutting the number allowed from 160 to 100. They also reduced the length of time those permitted entry could remain in the US. Beijing condemned the move as reflecting a “Cold War mindset” and warned of retaliation.

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Clean water in Venice for the first time in forever. The flipside of this: Free parking in Athens to limit use of public transportation.

 

https://twitter.com/ikaveri/status/1239660248207589383

 

 

 

 

 

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